- REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
- Brexit Secretary announces MPs will have the right to vote down any final Brexit deal.
- David Davis says the final Brexit deal will be put to Parliament as primary legislation.
- In practice, this means MPs will vote either to leave the EU with the deal Davis has negotiated, or leave with no deal at all.
- Labour claims victory for Davis’ “significant climbdown” but opposition MPs have described the vote as not good enough.
LONDON – David Davis has announced that Parliament will be given the right to vote down a final Brexit deal.
The Brexit Secretary told MPs on Monday afternoon that any final deal reached with the EU at the end of Article 50 negotiations will be put to Parliament in the form of primary legislation.
This means MPs will debate the final deal and then vote on whether to either accept or reject it.
Davis’ announcement is an apparent attempt to head off a proposed amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill which called for Parliament to be given a meaningful vote on a final deal.
Parliamentary committees will begin scrutinising the Withdrawal Bill on Thursday. Nearly 200 amendments have been tabled for the Bill.
Speaking on Monday, Davis said:
“Once we have reached an agreement we will now bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement that agreement, this will be known as the withdrawal agreement and implementation bill.
“This confirms that the major policy set out in the withdrawal agreement will be directly implemented into UK law by primary legislation.
“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.”
In practice, the legislation means that Parliament will at the end of the Brexit process have the choice to either accept the exit package negotiated by the British negotiating team or instead vote to leave the EU with no deal.
Parliament choosing to reject the deal would not halt Brexit. However, it would put Prime Minister Theresa May under pressure to request an extension to negotiations.
Labour described it as a “significant climbdown from a weak government on the verge of defeat.”
“For months, Labour has been calling on ministers to guarantee Parliament a final say on the withdrawal agreement,” Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said.
“With less than 24 hours before they had to defend their flawed Bill to Parliament they have finally backed down. However, like everything with this government the devil will be in the detail.
“Ministers must now go further. They need to accept Labour’s amendments that would ensure transitional arrangements, and protect jobs and the economy from a cliff edge.”
Opponents of Brexit said that Davis hadn’t gone far enough.
“A parliamentary vote simply isn’t good enough,” Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said.
“The people voted to leave the EU, they should get to decide whether to accept the deal the government has negotiated.
“If they reject the government’s Brexit deal, they must have the option to stay in the EU.”