Par­lia­ment al­lowed to vote on final Brexit deal

Nelson Mail - - WORLD -

BRI­TAIN: Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment will be given a ‘‘take-it or leave-it’’ vote on Brexit af­ter min­is­ters agreed to en­shrine the deal in law, in a sig­nif­i­cant govern­ment con­ces­sion.

David Davis, the Brexit Sec­re­tary, yes­ter­day an­nounced that MPs and peers will be given a bind­ing vote on the final deal with Brus­sels.

How­ever, the climb­down has prompted fears that pro-Euro­pean Union MPs will at­tempt to frus­trate Brexit with amend­ments in the hope of de­lay­ing or even post­pon­ing Bri­tain’s de­par­ture.

Davis warned yes­ter­day that Bri­tain will leave the EU with­out a deal in March 2019 if MPs vote down the govern­ment’s final agree­ment with Brus­sels.

Davis’s con­ces­sion came less than 24 hours be­fore the House of Com­mons was due to be­gin de­bat­ing the next stage of the EU With­drawal Bill, which trans­fers thou­sands of Euro­pean laws and reg­u­la­tions on to the United King­dom’s statute books.

The govern­ment is fac­ing a huge re­bel­lion over the pro­posed move, with more than 400 amend­ments tabled by MPs.

His in­ter­ven­tion was an at­tempt to avert the cri­sis, and comes af­ter the govern­ment was forced ear­lier this year to get Par­lia­ment’s sup­port for in­vok­ing Ar­ti­cle 50 af­ter a le­gal chal­lenge.

Tory rebels said the vote was ‘‘point­less’’ be­cause it means Par­lia­ment can­not change the terms of the final deal.

Davis told the Com­mons the new law, which will cover ar­eas in­clud­ing cit­i­zens’ rights, the so-called di­vorce bill and a tran­si­tion pe­riod, would pro­vide ‘‘cer­tainty and clar­ity’’ as Bri­tain left the EU.

He was asked by Owen Pater­son, a Euroscep­tic Tory MP, if Bri­tain would leave ‘‘with­out an agree­ment’’ if MPs voted down the deal. He replied: ‘‘Yes.’’

He later added: ‘‘It’s a mean­ing­ful vote, but not mean­ing­ful in the sense that some be­lieve mean­ing­ful [to be], which is that you can re­verse the whole thing.’’

Davis said that while he was pre­pared to go back and talk to Brus­sels if the Com­mons tried to make changes to the deal, he was doubt­ful the timetable would al­low any changes at that stage.

He was backed by Euro­pean sources who warned that the deal would not be changed at the 11th hour. One source said: ‘‘If the UK Govern­ment comes back at 11pm on March 29, 2019 say­ing the House of Com­mons has amended ‘x, y and z’, then we would need to go back to coun­cil and Par­lia­ment.

‘‘But it is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to imag­ine mem­ber states will start this whole process again once it has been rat­i­fied, par­tic­u­larly given how chal­leng­ing the time is al­ready.’’

The move in­fu­ri­ated pro-Euro­pean Tories, who are pre­par­ing to rebel against govern­ment plans to en­shrine the date that Bri­tain leaves the EU in law.

Heidi Allen, a Tory rebel, said the vote would be ‘‘point­less’’ if Bri­tain failed to se­cure a deal with Brus­sels un­til the 11th hour. ‘‘There’d be no time,’’ she said.

An­toinette Sand­bach, an­other proEuro­pean Tory MP, said: ‘‘The an­nounce­ment is mean­ing­less if, for any rea­son, the timetable slips be­yond March 2019.’’

Ten­sions over Brexit within the Con­ser­va­tive Party are in­creas­ing as the bill be­gins its next stage in the Com­mons. Up to a dozen Tory MPs are ex­pected to say that they will vote against plans to en­shrine the date that Bri­tain leaves the EU in law.

Nicky Mor­gan, the Re­main­sup­port­ing for­mer ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary, yes­ter­day ac­cused Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May of be­ing ‘‘tin-eared and tone-deaf’’ on Brexit.

Over the next month MPs will de­bate more than 400 amend­ments, run­ning into 186 pages.

Do­minic Grieve, the for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral and lead­ing Brexit rebel, sug­gested that he would not drop an amend­ment of his own de­mand­ing a mean­ing­ful vote. He sug­gested that the Brexit dead­line should be ex­tended if Par­lia­ment voted to amend the final deal to al­low talks with Brus­sels.

It came as Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit sec­re­tary, said Labour would al­low the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice to re­tain some of its in­flu­ence over UK law af­ter Brexit. – Tele­graph Group

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