UK govt to publish Article 50 legislation on Brexit on Thursday

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will publish legislation on Thursday (Jan 26) seeking parliament's approval to begin formal divorce talks with the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokeswoman said on Wednesday (Jan 25).

On Tuesday, the UK Supreme Court ruled that May must give parliament a vote before she can invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

Brexit Minister David Davis has promised that the legislation will be "the most straightforward bill possible".

Mrs May also said on Wednesday she would publish her plan for Brexit in a formal "White Paper" to allow parliament to scrutinise it.  

Last week, May said Britain would quit the EU’s single market when it leaves the union, charting a course for a clean break with the world’s largest trading bloc.  

Following her speech and the court ruling, many lawmakers, including some from her own party, said they wanted to see the plans set out in a formal "White Paper" to facilitate greater scrutiny before a parliamentary vote on triggering.  

White papers are policy documents produced by the government that set out their proposals for future legislation.  

The government had responded to those calls by saying it believed the publication of a white paper was not necessary. But, on Wednesday, May changed her position.

“I set out that bold plan for a global Britain last week and I recognise there is an appetite in this house to see that plan set out in a white paper,” May told parliament. “I can confirm to the house that our plan will be set out in a white paper.”

The Institute for Government, a think tank, said there were no rules about what must be included in a white paper, and that any such document could simply repeat the contents of May’s speech.