Cross party MPs slam Government for “fig leaf” concession over a Parliamentary vote on Brexit terms

Open Britain MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Greens have today slammed the Government for offering a “fig-leaf” concession on a Parliamentary vote on the final Brexit deal.

The Government has offered Parliament a final vote on the Brexit terms. However, there is no guarantee that Parliament will be given sufficient time; that the Government will return to Brussels to negotiate a better deal if their first offering is voted down by Parliament; or that Parliament will be given a vote if no deal is negotiated and we face crashing onto WTO trading terms. 

Cross-party MPs say this is not good enough, and that the House of Commons should reject this “con” offered by the Government. 

Chris Leslie MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“The Government’s so-called ‘concession’ falls short of giving Parliament a meaningful vote.

“Ministers have failed to produce a new amendment, so their commitment will not be binding. The Minister refused to give Parliament the option to reject the deal and tell the Government to go back to negotiate a better one.

“And on the nightmare scenario – that we could leave the EU with no deal at all, and face damaging barriers to trade with Europe – it seems Parliament could have no say whatsoever. 

“This simply isn’t good enough. The Government needs to listen to the concerns of MPs from across the House and give Parliament a true say on the Brexit process.” 

Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party and supporter of Open Britain, said: 

“MPs must not be duped by the Government’s attempt to quell unrest on their backbenches. The vote they’re offering – which will give MPs a choice between an extreme Brexit and falling off a cliff edge into WTO trade rules – isn’t a concession, it’s an ultimatum. Parliament should have a real voice on the terms of Brexit – not a symbolic handout from a Government trying to railroad their extreme Brexit through the House of Commons.” 

Tom Brake MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“This is not so much a concession as a con. It still leaves Parliament with no meaningful say at the end of the negotiations.

“A choice between a bad deal and no deal is no choice at all. The Government must offer Parliament more than a false choice between hard Brexit or even harder Brexit.

“The Government were rattled enough to offer this fig leaf. The pressure must now be intensified until Parliament is granted the power to send the Government back to the negotiating table if a bad deal is rejected.”

/ends

Notes to editors: 

A YouGov poll commissioned by Open Britain has found that if Parliament decides that the final deal the Government negotiates with the EU is not good enough, a majority of British people want the Government to continue to negotiate with the EU and seek a deal that Parliament can accept. 51% of people said they would want to negotiations to continue, while only 34% said they would want the UK to leave without a deal: http://www.open-britain.co.uk/mcfadden_people_want_parliament_to_be_able_to_send_the_government_back_to_the_negotiating_table_if_it_believes_the_final_deal_is_not_good_enough_for_britain.

Open Britain are campaigning against the Government being given a blank cheque for a hard, destructive Brexit. We are backing any amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill which:

  • Give Parliament the power to send the Government back to the negotiating table if they do not think the final deal with the EU is good enough.
  • Ensure that the UK should only leave the EU with no deal if Parliament has expressly voted for that to happen, not just as a consequence of the Government’s failure to negotiate a good deal. 
  • Allow for the UK Parliament to receive the draft deal at the same time as the European Parliament, to give sufficient time for scrutiny.

Open Britain believes the two key amendments which would give Parliament a more meaningful say at the end of the negotiations are NC110 and NC99

NC110

To move the following Clause—

“Future relationship with the European Union

(1) Following the exercise of the power in section 1, any new Treaty or relationship with the European Union must not be concluded unless the proposed terms have been subject to approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.

(2) In the case of any new Treaty or relationship with the European Union, the proposed terms must be approved by resolution of each House of Parliament before they are agreed with the European Commission, with a view to their approval by the European Parliament or the European Council.”

Member’s explanatory statement: This new clause seeks to ensure that Parliament must give approval to any new deal or Treaty following the negotiations in respect of the triggering of Article 50(2), and that any new Treaty or relationship must be approved by Parliament in advance of final agreement with the European Commission, European Parliament or European Council.

NC99

  • NC99 requires Parliament to approve the terms of the agreement for withdrawing from the EU through primary legislation.
  • The UK would not be able to leave the EU without final parliamentary assent on the agreement at the end of art 50 negotiations.

To move the following Clause—

               “Parliamentary approval of the final terms of withdrawal from the EU

The United Kingdom shall withdraw from the EU once either -

(a)    Royal Assent is granted to an Act of Parliament that approves -

(i)            the arrangements for withdrawal, and

(ii)           the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU as agreed to between the United Kingdom and EU, or

(b)    Royal Assent is granted to an Act of Parliament that approves the United Kingdom’s withdrawal without an agreement being reached between the United Kingdom and the EU.”

Member’s explanatory statement: This new clause aims to embed parliamentary sovereignty throughout the process and requires primary legislation to give effect to any agreement on withdrawal or for withdrawal without such an agreement.