David Davis warns rebel Tory MPs not to sabotage Brexit bill

Posted On: 
12th March 2017

David Davis has warned rebel Conservative MPs that tampering with the Article 50 bill could lead to a major court battle over Brexit.

Brexit Secretary David Davis issued a last-ditch warning to colleagues today
PA Images

In a last minute intervention the Brexit Secretary said tacking amendments onto the legislation would create a “greater risk of legal action".

The draft bill returns to the Commons this week after having two amendments added to it in the Lords.

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One would allow parliament a vote to force Theresa May back to the negotiating table if the deal she secures is unsatisfactory, while the other would guarantee the rights of EU citizens already in the UK.

But writing in the Daily Telegraph Mr Davis told MPs upholding the amendments in the Commons would leave Mrs May with “one hand tied behind her back” in Brexit negotiations.

“The more conditions that are attached, the greater the risk of legal action down the line,” he warned.

He branded the amendment for a so-called “meaningful vote” on the deal a “veto” and said UK citizens on the continent would face “a long period of uncertainty” if Britain made a unilateral guarantee over EU nationals’ rights.

He urged MPs to repeat their previous decision to pass the bill unamended and allow the Prime Minister to get on with negotiations “with no strings attached”, amid reports that ten or more Tories could rebel and back the changes.

“Parliament will be properly engaged and involved throughout. It should not send our Prime Minister into this vital negotiation with one hand tied behind her back,” he said.


But a pro-EU Tory MP told the paper it was “absolute rubbish” to suggest Mrs May’s negotiating position would be hindered by the amendments.

“What we will not have is this ideological claptrap for hard Brexiteers who want take us out of the EU without a deal,” the MP said.

“They are, as far as we are concerned, the awkward squad and have a tendency to push the Government into public statements. That is where the tension comes in.”

Cabinet ministers have been forced to cancel foreign trips to ensure they are in parliament to vote when the bill comes back to the Commons, the Sunday Telegraph adds.

It was reported by the Guardian yesterday that Article 50 could be triggered as early as Tuesday if the passage of the bill runs smoothly.