MPs back bid to hand Parliament control of Brexit if Theresa May loses Commons vote on deal

Posted On: 
4th December 2018

MPs have backed a bid for Parliament to effectively take control of the Brexit process should Theresa May's deal be voted down.

Theresa May endured one of her worst days since becoming Prime Minister.
PA Images

In another humiliating defeat for the Prime Minister, the Commons voted by 321 to 229 in favour of an amendment tabled by former Tory minister Dominic Grieve that would allow Government motions under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Bill to be altered by MPs.

The reverse came barely an hour after the Government was found to be in contempt of Parliament for failing to publish the full legal advice it has received on the Brexit deal.

Hammer blow for Theresa May as Government found to be in contempt over Brexit legal advice row

Boost for anti-Brexit campaigners as top EU lawyer says UK could cancel process

Theresa May insists her Brexit deal 'delivers for British people' as MPs begin five days of debate

The Prime Minister is facing almost-certain defeat when the withdrawal agreement if voted on by MPs on 11 December.

If that happens, the Government will have 21 days to return to parliament with a motion setting out what it plans to do next should it fall.

Mr Grieve's amendment means that MPs will be able to vote through changes to that motion - virtually ruling out the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal while increasing the chances of another referendum.

The former attorney general said: “It is contrary to all sensible practice and I have to say slightly disrespectful to the role of this House that we should end up in a situation where we have unamendable motions for consideration at a time when parliament ought to be fully focused on trying to find means of resolving issues."

He added that the amendment would “in very simple terms, cure that problem” and “provide reassurance” that Parliament can continue the debate.

In a sign of Theresa May's waning authority, more than 20 Tory MPs voted for the Grieve amendment and against the Government.

They included Damian Green, a former Cabinet minister and until now someone who was fiercely loyal to the Prime Minister.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Grieve said: "Parliament has tonight asserted its sovereignty to ensure that amendments – such as for a People’s Vote – can be made to any motion if or when the Government’s proposed deal for leaving the EU has been defeated.

"MPs are tonight starting the process of taking  back control. No longer must the will of Parliament – reflecting the will of the people – be diminished.

"More and more MPs are concluding that the Government’s proposed deal is not what was promised two years ago, it’s a much worse deal than the one we’ve already got in the EU and, if approved would mean Brexit goes on forever because it leaves all the big questions unanswered.

“Parliament must now take back control and then give the final decision back to the public because, in the end, only the people can sort this out.”