Monday, 13 March 2017

ConservativeHome: If Britain reaches no deal with the EU, Parliament must still be able to vote

ConservativeHome: If Britain reaches no deal with the EU, Parliament must still be able to vote

by Nicky Morgan MP

"During the Committee stage of the Bill in the Commons, the Government conceded that Parliament would have “a vote on the final deal in both Houses before it comes into force”. David Jones, Minster at the Department for Exiting the EU, said that: “This will cover both the withdrawal agreement and our future relationship with the European Union. I can confirm that the Government will bring forward a motion on the final agreement, to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it is concluded. We expect and intend that that will happen before the European Parliament debates and votes on the final agreement. “ In this way, Ministers have given an assurance which deals with paragraphs one to three of the Lords amendment.

In the Commons last month, Jones could offer no certainty about whether Parliament would be able to vote if the Government decided that, in the words of the Prime Minster, “no deal is better than a bad deal.” So it is this point – reflected in paragraph four of the Lords amendment – which Ministers must address in the Commons debate today if they are to gain widespread support in the Conservative Parliamentary Party for both overturning the Lords amendment, and avoiding a prolonged ping-pong between the Commons and Lords this week.

I think that those who say that any such vote amounts to a veto, or is a way to defeat Brexit, or would incentivise the EU to offer us a bad deal are wrong. Many people said that Parliament would stand in the way of the triggering of Article 50 and thwart the ‘will of the people’. But MPs and Peers have shown this fear to be unfounded. And at the end of the negotiations, deal or no deal, Parliament will be very aware just how high the stakes are and of the consequences of a “no” vote.

But it must be the case, particularly for those who argued that leaving the EU was all about taking back control, that this rests with our sovereign Parliament, and that Parliamentary approval is a useful safety valve for any Government. There may be very good reasons for the Government to decide that a deal is impossible to conclude – but Parliament must be involved in that decision, and not sidelined."

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