Peers vote to give MPs the final say on Brexit terms

Muriel Hammond
May 4, 2018

The Government has suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords after rebel peers backed a "wrecking amendment" which threatens to weaken Theresa May's negotiating hand and prevent the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

Mr Davis said his officials are still working on a United Kingdom version of the backstop.

Lord Hailsham, who introduced the amendment, told peers ahead of the vote that the Brexit referendum was "at best" an "interim decision" and the people's decision should be "tested" in a second vote.

The EU's backstop proposal, which would mean Northern Ireland staying in the customs union and much of the single market, has been rejected by the UK.

Both sides hope to negotiate the UK's withdrawal agreement by this October in order to give the United Kingdom and European Parliaments enough time to debate and vote on it before the moment of departure.

It was seventh of nine defeats in the last two weeks for the government, which says the European Union withdrawal bill is purely a technical document to "copy and paste" European Union law into British law and guarantee a smooth Brexit.

The amendment, known as Clause 49, proposes that Parliament can determine the Government's course of action if the Commons rejects.

"Whatever our party affiliation, our duty as parliamentarians is to our country and our conscience", he said.

"It is absolutely right that Parliament is able to scrutinise the final deal, and that is why we have already committed to giving both Houses a vote on the final deal".

"Cabinet expressed its strong disappointment at the defeats inflicted on the European Union withdrawal bill in the House of Lords, saying they risked tying the government's hands behind its back in negotiations with Brussels", May's spokesman told reporters.

But former Conservative leader Lord Howard said the idea of effectively giving Parliament a veto over Brexit - which the public voted for in a 2016 referendum - was "fundamentally misconceived".

Speaking afterwards, he said ministers would consider the implications of the vote.

Theresa May is set for a clash with backbench Brexiteers over plans to water down post-Brexit immigration controls.

He declined to comment directly on whether the government would try to overturn the amendment which, if passed by the lower house, would allow parliament to send ministers back to the negotiating table in Brussels or halt the Brexit process.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article