LONDON - The British government on Thursday introduced the long-awaited bill that will launch Britain's exit from the 28-nation European Union, offering lawmakers a very tight timetable to consider the most influential government decision in decades.
Brexit secretary David Davis urged lawmakers not to attempt to thwart the will of the people who voted in June to leave the EU as they considered the measure.
"I trust that Parliament, which backed the referendum by six to one, will respect the decision taken by the British people and pass the legislation quickly," Davis said.
But opposition parties, seeing the limited amount of time given to consider such an immense topic, cried foul, promising to aggressively propose amendments to make certain that a variety of views are heard on Brexit.
Lawmakers heckled House of Commons Leader David Lidington as he announced the timetable, shouting "Disgraceful!" as he said the bill will would be in committee for just three days. Opponents said other measures in the past were given a much longer time to be discussed.
Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative government was forced to place the matter before Parliament after a Supreme Court ruling earlier this week. Her government had fought the introduction of the bill for fear that it will stall her timetable of triggering Article 50 by the end of March.
Meanwhile, the government, meanwhile, is not making any promises on when it will give lawmakers a formal plan for Brexit. May has pledged to reveal the details of her negotiating objectives for Brexit in a government White Paper.
Opposition lawmakers want to see the plan before they consider the bill.
"I've said we will produce it as expeditiously as possible, as quickly as possible," Davis said. "What can you do faster than that?"