Tory MPs ‘deadly serious’ about Brexit rebellion

26 Oct

Former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan challenged Brexit Secretary David Davis to accept a tabled amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which would ensure MPs and peers the right to approve the terms of Britain’s withdrawal.

Labour also demanded a “cast-iron guarantee” on Parliament voting before the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019.

It has been confirmed the EU Withdrawal Bill will return to Parliament for a fresh House of Commons showdown on 14 November, when MPs will consider some of the near-400 amendments tabled to the legislation.

The Government is reported to have delayed the bill’s progress as ministers consider how to respond to the proposed changes, many of which have been backed by senior Tories.

The number of amendments has raised suggestions Theresa May could even be defeated on the legislation, which aims to end the supremacy of EU law in the UK at the time Britain exits the bloc.

Mrs Morgan’s challenge to Mr Davis came as the Brexit Secretary was forced to appear before MPs after sowing confusion with his previous suggestion the House of Commons and House of Lords might only vote on a final Brexit agreement after Britain has left the EU.

David Davis
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David Davis was forced to clarify his remarks to the House of Commons

Answering an urgent question from Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Davis reiterated it is the Government’s “aim” for Parliament to vote on both a divorce deal and the UK’s future relationship with the EU before the end of March 2019.

But, he added: “Of course this vote cannot happen until there is a deal to vote upon.

“We’re working to reach an agreement on a final deal in good time before we leave the EU in March 2019.

“Clearly we cannot say for certain at this stage when this will be agreed.”

Mr Davis highlighted how both he and EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier are aiming to reach a draft agreement by October 2018 in order for the deal to be ratified in Brussels and across European capitals, including London.

However, ex-education secretary Mrs Morgan told Mr Davis to accept her Tory colleague Dominic Grieve’s amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which would commit the Government’s promise of a parliamentary vote to law.


MP Keir Starmar calls Brexit secretary's comments a 'mess'

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Labour: Brexit secretary’s comments a ‘mess’

She said: “Reports have reached members on this side that the Secretary of State doesn’t think that those Conservative members who have signed that amendment are serious about supporting it if we need to.

“Can I tell him we are deadly serious, and it would be better for the Government to adopt a concession strategy on having a withdrawal agreement secured by statute sooner rather than later for all concerned.”

The Brexit Secretary replied: “I won’t pre-empt the discussions in the bill, but those reports are not true.”

Sir Keir accused Mr Davis of overseeing a “mess” following seemingly contradictory statements from both the Brexit Secretary and Prime Minister on Wednesday.

The shadow Brexit secretary said it would be “wholly unacceptable” for the European Parliament to vote on a Brexit deal without MPs and peers having their own say, as he demanded a “cast-iron guarantee that will not happen”.

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