Government agrees to publish Brexit plan before Article 50 is triggered

Posted On: 
6th December 2016

The Government has moved to head off a Tory revolt by agreeing to set out its plan for Brexit before triggering Article 50. 

The Government's amendment agrees to publish a plan for Brexit but ties MPs to its proposed timetable for triggering Article 50
PA Images

The Government was facing a defeat in the Commons on a Labour motion calling on the Prime Minister to “commit to publishing” her plan before the process of leaving the European Union begins.

Ministers have now accepted the motion, while amending it to challenge Labour to get behind its timetable for invoking Article 50.

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Theresa May has pledged to initiate the two-year Brexit negotiation timeframe by the end of March next year – but, subject to the ruling of the Supreme Court, she may need MPs’ approval to do so.

A non-binding amendment to the Labour motion has now been tabled in the Prime Minister’s name which would tie MPs to her plan.

The original motion, which will be debated tomorrow afternoon, said it was “Parliament’s responsibility to properly scrutinise the Government while respecting the decision of the British people to leave the European Union”.

While accepting there should be “no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK” in the Brexit negotiations, the motion “call[ed] on the Prime Minister to commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked”.

The Government’s amendment accepted Labour’s wording, but turned the pressure onto Labour MPs by adding that the House “further calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017”.

Ministers have previously refused to give details on the UK’s priorities for the negotiations, arguing that to do so would give the upper hand to their EU counterparts.

The Conservative leadership looked set to be outvoted tomorrow after Tory former minister Anna Soubry said she would support Labour’s motion and predicted “at least” 40 of her colleagues would do likewise.