Tory peer Lord Heseltine to rebel over Article 50 bill

Posted On: 
26th February 2017

Lord Heseltine has insisted he is not engaging in “confrontation” with ministers over Brexit as he prepares to rebel against the Government over its Article 50 legislation. 

Lord Heseltine backed Remain at the EU referendum
PA Images

The former deputy prime minister said he would back an amendment to the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill calling for Parliament to be given a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Lord Heseltine insisted his stance would uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling that MPs and peers have ultimate authority.

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He argued that the amendment would ensure that the House of Commons can “exercise its authority over the defining issue of out time”.

And he said he would vote against the Conservative three-line whip on the bill for only the third time in his decades-long parliamentary career with a heavy heart.

“In the end the outcome of Brexit will have to be confirmed by Parliament,” he wrote.

"It will also have to pass in 27 national European parliaments, several sub-national parliaments and the European Parliament.

"It was perhaps unwise for our Government to suppose that our Parliament should be excluded where all others were included.

"Very sensibly, after the Supreme Court interpreted the law, that position was reversed and Parliament was restored to its rightful constitutional role as the ultimate authority.

"I will vote in the House of Lords to ensure that position is legally intact."

He added: “This is not a confrontation with the Government which has already made such a commitment.

"It is, put simply, a decision to ensure that the Commons has the chance to define its role in the exercise of its authority over what most people regard as the defining issue of our time."

Theresa May watched on as peers began the first day of debate over the Article 50 bill this week.

The legislation reaches its committee stage next week, where the Upper Chamber will discuss and potentially vote on a selection of amendments to the bill.

Liberal Democrat and Labour peers are hopeful of securing amendments on the final Brexit deal, and EU citizens’ rights to remain in the UK post-Brexit.

Senior ministers told the MoS that both amendments would force Mrs May to enter the crunch Brexit negotiations “with one hand behind her back”.

The Prime Minister has pledged to trigger Article 50 before the end of March.