Facing warnings from both Leave and Remain factions in her party about her offer of a compromise on parliamentary consultation, the Prime Minister vowed that any vote about a possible deal with the bloc will not be allowed to “tie the hands” of the Government in the talks.
She also insisted the expected “meaningful vote” cannot “overturn the will of the British people” expressed in the 2016 referendum vote to quit the EU.
She said: “The British people voted to leave the European Union and, as Prime Minister, I am determined to deliver that.”
Tory peers will today table an amendment to the Prime Minister’s flagship Brexit legislation drawn up by David Davis’s Department for Exiting the EU.
Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons yesterday
The British people voted to leave the European Union and, as Prime Minister, I am determined to deliver that
It is expected to commit the Government to giving both houses of Parliament the opportunity to vote on the outline of an expected exit deal with Brussels in the autumn.
Mrs May offered the change in last-ditch talks with pro-Brussels rebel Tories earlier this week to avoid a damaging defeat for the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday she was challenged by senior Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg to ensure that Parliament could seize control of the negotiations.
“It should be made clear in any compromise amendment that the job of the Government and the job of Parliament are different,” the chairman of the Tory backbench European Research Group said. Mrs May told him: “I am happy to be clear about this situation.
Theresa May confirmed that she had agreed with David Davis for the Government to amend the Bill
“We have seen concerns raised about the role of Parliament in relation to the Brexit process. “What I agreed yesterday is that, as the Bill goes back to the Lords, we will have further discussions with colleagues over those concerns.”
She confirmed that she had agreed with Mr Davis, the EU Exit Secretary, yesterday for the Government to amend the Bill. The Prime Minister added: “The Government’s hand in the negotiations cannot be tied by Parliament, but the Government must be accountable to Parliament.
“Government determines policy and we then need parliamentary support to be able to implement that policy.
“What I am absolutely clear on is that I cannot countenance Parliament being able to overturn the will of the British people. “Parliament gave the decision to the British people, the British people voted to leave the European Union.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said ‘amendments about a meaningful vote’ are about ‘stopping Brexit’
“As Prime Minister, I am determined to deliver that.” Mrs May agreed the compromise plan with rebel MPs including former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan.
The crucial meeting was held on Tuesday, just minutes before a crunch Commons vote. But her decision to accommodate the request from Remainer Tories alarmed enthusiastic Leavers.
One senior backbencher said: “She is so weak she now agrees with whoever she finds herself in a room with. It is not good.”
Mr Rees-Mogg last night said: “Amendments about a meaningful vote are not about parliamentary scrutiny but about stopping Brexit.”
Owen Paterson, Tory MP and former Cabinet minister
COMMENT – Owen Paterson, Tory MP and former Cabinet minister
There has been much talk about further amendments to the Bill, which could embolden the EU to be even more intransigent or limit the Prime Minister’s options at the negotiating table.
This would be really dangerous.
The House of Lords must not pass any such amendments thwarting the will of the elected Commons and that of the British people.
They must not be tempted in any way to limit the Prime Minister’s freedom to act as necessary to secure the best possible deal for the United Kingdom, even if that means walking away.
All the Lords’ amendments to the Withdrawal Bill were defeated by the elected Commons this week.
The Bill now returns to the Lords on Monday, giving the Government maximum freedom to negotiate and deliver Brexit. The Prime Minister goes to Brussels for crunch talks in a fortnight with a strong hand.
Remember that the EU sells £72billion more to the UK than we sell to them – over half of our exports go elsewhere. They need our £9billion net annual contributions to the EU budget.
But in any negotiation, the negotiator must retain, and if necessary exercise, the right to walk away without a deal if he or she is to have any hope of securing a good one.
There would be no point haggling in a car showroom if the dealer knew you had to buy the car whatever the outcome.