Photo taken on March 14, 2017 shows the "Big Ben" in central London, Britain. The British upper house of the Parliament passed the Brexit Bill Monday night, clearing the last hurdle for the government to trigger Brexit. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
LONDON, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Theresa May is finally clear to trigger Britain's exit from the European Union after peers in the unelected House of Lords backed down from challenging the elected House of Commons.
Two amendments in the House of Lords that could have delayed the progress of May's bill were finally rejected by the peers after MPs in the elected Commons rejected the amendments.
A formal royal assent from Queen Elizabeth is all that stands in the way of May informing Brussels as early as Tuesday of Britain's intention of leaving the European Union after 43 years.
The bill gives May the legal authority to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the laid down procedure within the EU for a member state wishing to leave. Once article 50 is triggered, it kick-starts a two year process for negotiating a new relationship between both sides.
In the House of Commons, MPs rejected the two amendments put forward by the House of Lords, one to guarantee the rights of 3.2 million European citizens to remain in Britain (by 335 votes to 287) and the second to insist on a meaningful parliamentary vote on a final Brexit deal (lost by 331 votes against 286).
A committee of MPs was then elected to inform the Lords of their decision, calling on them to accept their vote.
Instead attempts were made in the Lords to keep the two amendments, even though they knew that their stand would be overturned by MPs.
Lord Bridges, the government minister in the House of Lords for exiting the EU, told peers that the decision to leave the bloc was one of the "most momenteus steps ever taken in our lifetime."
Baroness Hayter, for the main opposition Labour party, said she regretted the decision of the Commons to reject the amendments, adding that her party would not stand in the way of the Commons' decision.
She said her party would seek other ways of acheiving their aim, telling EU nationals: "To the people affected, we are not giving up on you."
The amendment calling for the residential rights of European to be protected was lost in the Lords by 274 votes to 135.
Barrister Lord Pannick, who legally represented businesswoman Gina Miller in the challenge that brought the issue to parliament in the first place, last week introduced the second amendment insisting parliament being given a meaningful vote on a final Brexit deal. Although his amendment last week won by a substanial margin, Pannick said in the debate Monday night it was now time for the House of Lords to give way to the Commons.
The second amendment was rejected by 274 to 118, finally giving the government the final approval for its Brexit bill.
The focus will now switch to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday to await any announcements about May's timetable to inform Brussels that Brexit Day has arrived.