U.K. lawmakers will begin a two-day debate Tuesday on a bill that could allow Prime Minister Theresa May to quickly trigger the country's exit process from the European Union.
The final vote, which is expected Wednesday evening in London, will likely allow May to invoke the Article 50 exit process, which begins the two-year process of negotiating out of existing treaties and agreements with the EU. The vote was compelled by a Supreme Court ruling last week that upheld a lower court decision that the prime minister did not have the unilateral right to trigger exit clause with parliamentary approval.
Although the bill is expected to pass comfortably, it has nonetheless received hundreds of amendments from different political parties around the U.K. and it is expected that Liberal Democrat and Scottish National Party lawmakers will vote against it. However, the leader of official opposition Labour Party has "ordered" his party to support the legislation despite the resignation of two of his recalcitrant shadow cabinet colleagues.
The pound, which has traded largely inversely to the government's 'hard Brexit' ambitions, was marked 0.3% lower against the U.S. dollar at 1.2447 by 09:45 GMT while the benchmark FTSE 100 gained 0.7% 7,158 points.
The Prime Minister last week promised to publish a so-called White Paper to outline details of her Brexit plans, with speculation it could come as soon as Thursday.
If passed, Britain's second chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, will debate the legislation after the February recess and likely complete the legislative process by March 7.
However, if amendments are made in the House of Lords, the bill will have to return to the House of Commons. The bill could be passed through the houses multiple times if they do not agree.
Prime Minister May has said she plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March. But reports in Tuesday suggested that if the bill is passed May could trigger the exit by March 8 or March 9, which would line up with a European Council meeting in Brussels.
"The people spoke in that vote. The majority voted to leave the European Union. I think it is now the job of the Government to put that into practice. I hope that when people come to look at the Article 50 Bill they will recognize it is a very simple decision: do they support the will of the British people or not?" May said at a press conference in Dublin Monday.