Brexit legislation expected to be finalised this evening

David Davis has encouraged MPs to leave the bill unchanged

Brexit legislation expected to be finalised this evening

A road traffic sign is in front of the Union Jack and the European Union flag hanging outside Europe House in Smith Square, London | Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Britain's road to Brexit is set to pass a significant milestone with the British parliament expected to grant the Prime Minister Theresa May the legal right to trigger formal EU exit negotiations.

David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, has encouraged MPs to leave the Brexit bill unchanged, despite the House of Lords amending the legislation.

Mrs May's EU (Notification of Withdrawal) bill is to return to the House of Commons Monday with two amendments.

The first calls for protection of EU nationals living in the UK - and the second demands that parliament be given a "meaningful" vote on the final deal struck between the government and the EU.

But the final showdown is likely to be rather low-key event: in the House of Commons only a handful of Conservative MPs appear to be gearing up to oppose the British government or abstain in the vote on the bill, which means it should leave the lower chamber unamended.

Meanwhile in the House of Lords, sources say there was an "80-90% chance" that the EU bill would clear the upper chamber on Monday, acknowledging that peers did not want to be portrayed as trying the thwart the result of the referendum.

However, assuming Mrs May is handed the power on Monday night to trigger Article 50, will she do it?

The UK government has committed to triggering Article 50 by the end of March but will not give further detail on the timing.

It is thought Mrs May would cause diplomatic upset by triggering Article 50 immediately before the Dutch election on Wednesday, given it could appear that the British were interfering in the election.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the far-right Party for Freedom, has hailed Britain's vote to leave the European Union as a "patriotic spring" during his election campaign, and could try to turn Britain's Article 50 moment to his advantage in the final hours of campaigning.

Meanwhile, Mrs May is also concerned about Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her demand for a second referendum and is nervous about triggering Article 50 ahead of the SNP's party conference on Saturday.

While, Ms Sturgeon has ruled out demanding an independence referendum at the party conference, the government may not want to fuel tensions over Brexit between Holyrood and Westminster ahead of the SNP's big political event.