British Brexit minister David Davis said on Monday the government would allow parliament the opportunity to debate, scrutinise and vote on any final Brexit agreement, offering a concession to Conservative Party rebels.
Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to offer a ‘meaningful vote’ on any deal for Britain’s departure from the European Union. Members of her own party are willing to vote against the government to stymie a bill which she says is needed to sever ties with the bloc. “I can now confirm that once we’ve reached an agreement we will bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement that agreement,” Davis told parliament. “This also means that parliament will be given time to debate, scrutinise and vote on the final agreement we strike with the European Union. This agreement will only hold if parliament approves it.”
May’s blueprint for Britain’s exit from the EU faces a crucial test starting on Tuesday, when lawmakers will debate the EU withdrawal bill that she says is crucial to give companies confidence that the rules will not change after Brexit.
Lawmakers have proposed 186 pages of amendments to the bill, which largely ‘copy and paste’ EU rules and regulations into British law but also, critics say, hand the government wide-ranging powers and cut parliament out of some Brexit planning.
Davis said the government would allow parliament the chance to vote on a ‘withdrawal agreement and implementation bill’ once it has secured a Brexit deal with the European Union, which both sides aim to do by late next year. “This confirms that the major policies set out in the withdrawal agreement (with the EU) will be directly implemented into UK law by primary legislation,” he said. Primary legislation means making law by acts of parliament or statute.
Some lawmakers welcomed the move, but others said the change in procedure would mean that if Britain failed to negotiate a deal with the EU, parliament would have no say, and that there would not be time for a proper chance to have sway over a deal. “Hasn’t he just given the game away on what a sham offer this is? Totally worthless to parliament, essentially trying to buy off people,” Chris Leslie, a member of the opposition Labour Party and a pro-EU campaigner, said.