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Britain's May sees off challenges to Brexit plan, so far

From Reuters - November 14, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa Mays blueprint to leave the European Union emerged unscathed on Tuesday from a first day of debate in parliament on legislation to sever ties with the bloc.

The debate, expected to last for weeks, is on the EU withdrawal bill, seen by May as crucial to give companies confidence that there will be no major legal changes that affect business when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

Opponents want to use the debate to force concessions on Mays plan for leaving the bloc, but the initial challenges - including on the hour and day Britain should pull out as well as on the future role of the EU court - were voted down or dropped.

The prime minister will face tougher battles as the debate goes on, testing her ability to steer through a bill intended largely to copy and paste European rules and regulations into British law by the time it leaves the 28-member EU.

Her absence from parliament on Tuesday due to other engagements suggested she was not unduly worried by the initial discussion.

But the debates ill-tempered tone showed the level of anger in parliament with a government which some lawmakers say is mounting a power grab to force through its plans.

With catcalls, sarcastic jokes and jeers being bandied about - not just between the two main parties, as is the custom, but often within them - many of the divisions before Britain voted in June 2016 to leave the EU re-emerged.

Youre a disgrace, one Conservative lawmaker yelled at another, while a Labour member of parliament openly quarreled with his colleagues in the main opposition party over which way their supporters voted in last years referendum.

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