Davis's final plea to Tories as 'Commons revolt' threatens to derail Brexit bill

David Davis has written to MPs in a last-ditch attempt to avert a Tory revolt and potential Commons defeat for the Government's Brexit legislation.

Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned she faces a rebellion unless MPs are guaranteed a meaningful vote on the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

Rebel ringleader and former attorney general Dominic Grieve believes he has enough support to defeat the Government on Wednesday evening unless ministers give in.

Labour is set to back Mr Grieve and urged would-be rebels not to be bought off by "warm words and woolly concessions".

Mr Davis promised MPs there would be "a number of votes" on the final deal struck between the UK and EU.

The Prime Minister's lack of a majority leaves her vulnerable to any Commons revolt and with up to 20 Tory MPs set to side with Mr Grieve in the division lobbies she could face a damaging blow to her authority.

"I think there are quite a few who may support me - I think enough, if this comes to a vote, to defeat the Government," Mr Grieve told the BBC.

Countdown to Brexit: key events
(PA Graphics)

Brexiteers reacted angrily to the threatened revolt, accusing the rebels of trying to "derail" the whole bill, which is needed to transpose EU legislation on to the UK statute book when Britain leaves in March 2019.

Mr Grieve, who campaigned for Remain in the referendum, denied his amendment - which would require any final deal with the EU to be approved by a separate act of Parliament before it could be implemented - was designed to prevent Brexit happening.

He said he tabled the change because without it the Government had the power to push the final deal through by the use of statutory instruments, denying MPs the vote they have already been promised by ministers on the outcome of the negotiations.

Mr Davis was issuing a written ministerial statement clarifying his approach ahead of the Commons showdown, insisting that the withdrawal agreement would not be implemented until there had been a resolution passed by MPs and peers.

The move appears to fall short of Mr Grieve's demand that the final deal is enshrined in a statute passed by Parliament before it can be put into effect.

In his letter to MPs, Mr Davis specifically referred to Mr Grieve's attempt to rewrite the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and said he was responding to concerns "by making clear that there will be a number of votes for Parliament on the final deal we strike with the EU".

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wants the withdrawal deal finalised by October 2018 and the Government has committed to hold a vote in Parliament as soon as possible after the negotiations have concluded.

Good #Brexit discussion w/ 27 ministers.
Negotiations in phase 2 will progress only if joint report commitments are reflected in full in withdrawal agreement.https://t.co/xBtoePo5si

Also: thank you @EU2017EE for excellent work- now off to Strasbourg ????to debate #Brexit w/ #EPpic.twitter.com/RDCbsx0LBc

-- Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) December 12, 2017

In an attempt to address Mr Grieve's point about the power to use secondary legislation, Mr Davis said: "The Government will not implement any parts of the withdrawal agreement - for example by using Clause 9 of the European Union (Withdrawal) bill - until after this vote has taken place."

In addition, he said the deal would have to go through the normal treaty ratification process and there would be primary legislation on the Brexit deal.

Additional new laws may also be required to implement an agreement on the UK-EU relationship after Brexit, he added.

Signalling support for Mr Grieve's amendment and a similar measure proposed by Labour, shadow Brexit minister Matthew Pennycook said: "Tory rebels have talked the talk, now they must walk the walk."

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