Tory rebels 'deadly serious' about backing Brexit vote for MPs

A senior Tory MP has said she and her colleagues are "deadly serious" about backing plans to give MPs the final say on Britain's Brexit deal.

Nicky Morgan challenged Brexit Secretary David Davis over reports that Tory rebels were not serious about backing an amendment to Brexit legislation that would put any vote on the statute book.

The amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill has been tabled by Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who said such a move would calm the debate and "bring a bit of rationality" to negotiations.

Nicky Morgan
Nicky Morgan refuted claims Tory rebels were not serious about backing an amendment to Brexit legislation (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Former education secretary Ms Morgan said: "There is a way for the Government to put this matter completely beyond doubt, and that is to accept the amendment seven to the withdrawal laid by (Mr Grieve).

"Reports have reached members on this side that the Secretary of State doesn't think that those Conservative members who have signed that amendment are serious about supporting it if we need to.

"Can I tell him we are deadly serious, and it would be better for the Government to adopt a concession strategy on having a withdrawal agreement secured by statute sooner rather than later for all concerned."

In reply, Mr Davis said: "I won't pre-empt the discussions in the bill, but those reports are not true."

The Brexit Secretary faced calls to guarantee in law that MPs will have a "meaningful" vote on the final Brexit deal.

In our negotiations for our new partnership with the EU, we've made considerable progress on the issues that matter

-- Exiting the EU Dept (@DExEUgov) October 10, 2017

Mr Grieve said it was necessary for both the UK and European parliaments to approve any Brexit deal.

"The only way in which we can do that properly is by statute in this House," he added.

"In those circumstances isn't it rather fanciful to imagine that having reached a deal with the European Union, they will hold us in some strange way to ransom because we point out that we need the time to enact the necessary statute.

"This flies in the face of reality, it seems to me, and I think it would just tone down the debate a little and bring a bit of rationality if we understood that our European Union partners would expect us to reach our own conclusion in accordance with our constitutional requirements."

David Davis takes questions in the Commons
David Davis takes questions in the Commons (PA)

Mr Davis said the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, wanted to conclude negotiations by October next year in order for that process to take place.

He said it is the Government's "intent and expectation" that MPs will have a vote before the European Parliament, adding: "That stands."

Mr Davis said if the current timetable is met then it is likely the European Parliament will have a vote in December 2018 or January 2019, noting: "We will have that before the House before then. There's no doubt about that.

"That undertaking is absolutely cast-iron."

Mr Davis said all parties want to make progress quickly, adding: "The issue here is one of practicality and what we control.

"What we control we will run in order to give Parliament a proper and meaningful vote at the right time."

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