David Davis under fire over Brexit vote pledge
The Government appears to have backed down amid the threat of a Tory rebellion - but opposition to its key legislation remains.
The Government has bolstered its commitment for Parliament to have the final say on a Brexit deal - but immediately faced a backlash for not guarding against the UK leaving the EU without an agreement.
Brexit Secretary David Davis unveiled plans for the UK's divorce deal to be written into law, meaning both MPs and peers will be afforded a vote on the agreement between London and Brussels.
The proposed Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill will cover issues such as an agreement on citizens' rights, the UK's financial settlement and the details of a transitional period.
Mr Davis told MPs: "I can now confirm that once we have reached an agreement we will bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement the agreement.
"This confirms that the major policy set out in the withdrawal agreement will be directly implemented into UK law by primary legislation, not by secondary legislation with the Withdrawal Bill.
"This also means that Parliament will be given time to debate, scrutinise and vote on the final agreement we strike with the EU.
"This agreement will only hold if Parliament approves it."
But pointless if we have enshrined a drop dead date in the Bill, & get a deal at 11th hour! There’d be no time!
The move comes ahead of a pivotal week for the Government's other key Brexit legislation, with more than 400 amendments tabled to the EU Withdrawal Bill - planned to convert EU law into UK law before March 2019 - ahead of its return to the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Mr Davis's announcement appears to be a concession to pro-Remain Tories amid the threat of a rebellion causing a Government defeat.
Former attorney-general Dominic Grieve, who brought the amendment, has revealed he and other Conservative MPs have recently been in talks with Downing Street over the legislation.
But the Government's beefed-up promise for a parliamentary vote did not dispel concerns surrounding the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Mr Davis confirmed MPs and peers will be given a take-it-or-leave-it choice on the Brexit deal, as he explained if Parliament rejects a withdrawal agreement, Britain will still leave the EU.
Tory backbencher Heidi Allen branded Mr Davis's plan "pointless" as she also highlighted the Government's intention to alter legislation to state Britain's membership of the EU will formally end at 11pm on 29 March, 2019.
She posted on Twitter: "Pointless if we have enshrined a drop dead date in the Bill, & get a deal at 11th hour! There'd be no time!
"And also offers no safeguard if no deal is reached. Unacceptable."
Fellow Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach similarly labelled the Government's promise "meaningless" should Brexit talks slip beyond March 2019.
Meanwhile, former Tory constitution minister John Penrose welcomed the Government's stronger pledge on a parliamentary vote, but expressed continuing concerns over the use of so-called "Henry VIII powers" as provided by the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer branded Mr Davis's actions "a significant climbdown from a weak Government on the verge of defeat".
"With less than 24 hours before they had to defend their flawed bill to Parliament they have finally backed down," he said.
"However, like everything with this Government the devil will be in the detail."
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said a parliamentary vote "simply isn't good enough" as he repeated his party's call for a second EU referendum on the terms of a Brexit deal.
November 14, 2017
Sources:` Sky News
A senior Cabinet minister has hinted the Government could retreat on its plan to formally write a date for Brexit into UK law, amid a backlash from Tory MPs.
Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including David Davis’s Commons statement on BrexitNo 10 lobby briefing - SummaryLunchtime summaryAfternoon summary 6.34pm GMT If he House does that [votes to change the bill], that will be taken I guess by the government as an instruction to go back and speak for them [to Brussels]. Whether that will deliver any outcome, I don’t know. 6.12pm GMT The Irish government had said the Democratic Unionist Party will not decide the future of Northern Ireland in Brexit negotiations.Foreign minister Simon Coveney told reporters in Brussels on Monday that its future is far too important to be left to any one party.That is not how a decision as fundamental and as important to Ireland’s future and Britain’s future should be made.I don’t accept that the options should be limited on the basis of the political arithmetic in the House of Commons.Anybody whose been following this process knows that Ireland has been consistent and stubborn and strong on the border issue because it’s so important to the functioning of the island of Ireland; linked to a peace process, linked to normal commerce, and the movement of goods, services, livestock, people. Continue reading...
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