EXCL Peers accused of 'transparent' attempt to overturn Brexit ahead of 'meaningful vote' showdown
The Government has warned peers to ditch what it brands a “transparent” bid to keep the UK in the EU after Brexit ahead of a crunch vote today.
An amendment in the House of Lords to the flagship Brexit bill would hand parliament the power to decide what happens next if MPs reject the deal Theresa May strikes with the EU.
It would give the Commons a genuine ‘meaningful vote’ and a chance to stop the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal - possibly by sending the Prime Minister back to the negotiating table.
The Government has said parliament will get a 'meaningful vote' allowing MPs to accept the deal or reject it and leave on World Trade Organisation terms.
The amendment in the Lords to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is expected to pass later today after winning cross-party support.
Pro-EU MPs are meanwhile confident they could keep it in the bill when it returns to the Commons, according to the Times.
But Brexit Minister Lord Callanan attacked the bid, which he said would be “disastrous for our negotiating position”, in an exclusive interview with PoliticsHome sister title the House Magazine.
“This is a fairly transparent attempt to reverse the result of the Brexit vote,” he said.
“Parliament has voted to leave the European Union. The Article 50 process was initiated through legislation. It was approved by both houses.
"That is the decision that was taken in respect of the result of the referendum to leave the European Union.”
He added: “This bill is about ensuring that we have a fully functioning statute book on exit day by taking a snapshot of EU regulations and transferring them into UK law.
“The other stuff that’s being added into it is extraneous to that - and is people trying to pre-empt the result of the negotiation.”
Brexit Secretary David Davis meanwhile warned that Britain would be thrown into a constitutional crisis if peers back the Labour-led amendment which has won support from a number of Tory peers.
In an article for the Sun, he blasted: “There is a clear distinction between the important work of revising legislation and attempting to overturn the referendum result to keep the UK inside the European Union, in direct opposition to the British people.
He argued the amendment would allow parliament to “micromanage” the negotiations and bind the Government’s hands or give Brussels a “clear incentive” to delay the talks.
And he added: “This fundamental change to the balance of our constitution would be both unprecedented and unworkable…
“Those who want to overturn the result of the Referendum have been calling for a ‘no Brexit option’ for months, and this amendment would grant it to them.
"This is not what the British people want, and it is not something that we can accept.”
But Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told the Observer: “This amendment would provide a safety net.
“It would remove the possibility of a No vote leading to a no-deal. It would bring back control to parliament.”
Peers have already inflicted a number of defeats on the Government on its flagship Brexit legislation - including on a bid to keep the UK in a customs union and on maintaining a string of worker and consumer rights.