Posted by Geoff Bishop
Senior Tories have admitted that Brexit will continue to cripple British politics for another two years.
Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom has revealed some MPs will spend the next 24 months at Westminster working on Britain quitting the EU.
The time will be taken up changing thousands of Brussels rules and regulations into British law in the so-called Great Repeal Bill.
Next year’s Queen’s Speech is being ditched by the Government to ease the way in Parliament for new Brexit laws.
In a highly unusual move, the parliamentary session is being doubled to two years.
Commons leader Leadsom said it would give MPs and peers the maximum time possible to scrutinise legislation taking the UK out of the European Union.
It means the Government will not put forward a new legislative program next year.
The announcement was made ahead of the start of negotiations between Britain and the EU.
Under discussion in Brussels tomorrow will be the future of British expats in Europe, the UK’s “divorce bill” from the EU – expected to be about £35billion – and the Northern Ireland border.
Leadsom said the “substantial legislative program” meant the next Westminster session should be extended to two years.
She said: “While our top priority right now is supporting the victims of the terrible tragedy at Grenfell tower, we also need to look ahead by setting out a legislative program that not only delivers a successful EU exit but also a domestic agenda which aims to tackle the social injustices in our country.
“The UK will spend the next two years preparing for our departure from the European Union in a way that best places us to realise the opportunities ahead and build a fairer society.
“This will require substantial amounts of legislation, beginning with the Great Repeal Bill.
“We will build the broadest possible consensus for our Brexit plans and that means giving Parliament the maximum amount of time to scrutinise these bills by holding a two-year session of Parliament.
“It will mean we can work together to deliver a successful Brexit deal and a strong social legislative program that delivers justice and opportunity to everyone.”
Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will kick off the talks.
Davis said: “As I head to Brussels to open official talks to leave the EU, there should be no doubt – we are leaving the European Union and delivering on that historic referendum result.
“Now, the hard work begins. We must secure a deal that works for all parts of the United Kingdom, and enables us to become a truly global Britain.
“Leaving gives us the opportunity to forge a bright new future for the UK – where we are free to control our borders, pass our own laws and do what independent sovereign countries do.”
The SNP’s new Westminster leader Ian Blackford insisted that the “humbled” Tory Government must abandon a hard Brexit.
Blackford, elected to the post last week after Angus Robertson lost his Westminster seat, said negotiations should involve the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments.
He said: “With Brexit negotiations set to begin, the election has made it crystal clear that the Tory position of a hard Brexit does not carry the support of the public, and any attempt to plough on regardless will have damaging consequences for Scotland and the UK.
“Theresa May asked the electorate to strengthen her hand, but instead they have cut the Tories down to size.
“Voters gave a clear instruction that the Conservatives cannot govern alone and must now reach out to others.
“The Prime Minister must ensure the Brexit negotiations are representative of all the UK nations and aim for an outcome which protects Scotland’s interests, particularly our continued place in the single market.
“They must also change course on austerity, which is putting so much pressure on public services and pushing more and more working families and children into a life of poverty.
“Another parliament of Tory cuts is a political choice – not a necessity – and it has been rejected by voters.”
May had wanted a hard Brexit that would have made controlling immigration a priority.
Constantly repeating the meaningless mantra “Brexit means Brexit”, she wanted the UK to leave the single market and the EU customs union and seek a custom-made trade deal.
She called a snap election to shore up support but instead, after a dismal campaign, the Tories now depend on Northern Ireland’s DUP for a majority.
The election result 10 days ago makes a soft Brexit, with less restrictions on EU workers, more likely.
Chancellor Philip Hammond is said to be pushing for a soft Brexit that would see Britain retain some form of associate membership to the customs union.