Labour joy as humbled May forced to grant MPs vote on final Brexit deal

13th November, 2017 4:55 pm

Labour fronbenchers today hailed a massive victory as Theresa May executed another huge u-turn and granted MPs a vote on the final Brexit deal.

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said the Tories had performed a “significant climbdown” after David Davis, his opposite number in government, announced there would be a binding vote on any deal.

Davis shocked the Commons this afternoon when he said MPs would be allowed to vote on a new law which included the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU, any transitional deal and an agreement on the rights of citizens from the bloc.

May’s minister was forced to back down fewer than 24 hours before the Commons is due to debate the EU Withdrawal bill and amid mounting pressure from Tory backbenchers and Labour. MPs will now be asked to consider a Withdrawal Agreement [and Implementation] Bill.

Today Starmer claimed victory for Labour although prominent backbenchers questioned the meaning of Davis’ pledge and what would happen if May failed to achieve a deal with EU negotiators.

Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie derided Davis’ concession as a ploy before tomorrow’s debate.

“This is a significant climbdown from a weak government on the verge of defeat,” Starmer said.

“For months, Labour has been calling on ministers to guarantee parliament a final say on the withdrawal agreement. 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.”

Chuka Umunna, the former shadow business secretary, described Davis’ statement as “totally insufficient”.

“He gave no guarantee of a meaningful vote before 29 March 2019 and this doesn’t cover the event of there being no deal,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Clearly this is an attempt to see off amendments that go much further than David Davis on a ‘meaningful vote’ – it is vital the EU Withdrawal Bill is amended to provide for a proper not a fake meaningful vote before any exit day.

“Davis has just confirmed his new EU withdrawal bill for the final agreement does not preclude crashing out without a deal or meaningful vote – Parliament would effectively be sidelined which makes a mockery of parliamentary sovereignty.”

Chris Leslie, former shadow chancellor and leading supporter of Open Britain, said: “What could have been a very welcome concession by the government, instead looks like a sham that pretends to respect the sovereignty of parliament but falls well short of what is required.

“It’s a transparent and fairly desperate attempt at the eleventh hour to save face and avoid losing votes in the House.

“Ministers need to do much better. It is crucial that this meaningful vote takes place well before we leave; that defeat for the government’s legislation will not imply leaving the EU with no deal; and that parliament has the same role in the event of a disastrous ‘no deal’ outcome.”

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