December 6, 2016 / 4:32 PM / 3 years ago

Government accepts call to publish Brexit plan, asks parliament to respect timetable

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May waits to address sailors on deck of HMS Ocean in Manama, Bahrain December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - The government has accepted the opposition Labour Party’s call for it to set out its plan for leaving the European Union before formal talks begin, but has asked parliament to respect its Brexit timetable.

It is not clear how much detail the government will give of its plan beyond its mantra that it wants “the best deal to trade with and operate within” the EU’s single market, alongside some curbs on freedom of movement.

Prime Minister Theresa May had faced a rebellion among her own MPs when parliament debates on Wednesday whether she should set out her plans before triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to begin the exit process.

Despite pleas from MPs and businesses for more detail on the plans, the government has said it will not give a running commentary as to do so would damage its negotiating position.

Labour’s motion called on May to commit to publishing the government’s Brexit plan but also said there should be “no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK in any negotiations to depart from the European Union”.

The government has tabled an amendment to that motion, saying that parliament should respect the result of the June 23 EU referendum and back May’s plan to invoke Article 50 by the end of March next year.

It will be the first time parliament has had the opportunity to vote on May’s planned Brexit timetable. The motion is not binding however, and if enough MPs voice their agreement, there may not be a formal vote.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Elizabeth Piper

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