Davis: Parliament will get a vote on the final Brexit deal

Sheetal Sukhija - Tuesday 14th November, 2017

LONDON, U.K. - Reassuring MPs, Brexit Secretary David Davis told them on Monday that the Parliament would get a binding vote on the final Brexit deal before the U.K. leaves the EU.

Davis told MPs that the terms of the U.K.’s exit, including any transition deal and agreement on citizen rights, would have to become a law via the new legislation.

He also reportedly told MPs that they would have the opportunity to reject or amend such legislation, adding that "the agreement will only hold if Parliament approves it.”

The announcement was believed to be significant because it represented a big concession to potential Tory rebels and Labour MPs at a highly important moment in the Brexit process.

Davis’ assurance to MPs came as they were preparing to debate key Brexit legislation later this week with the government facing possible defeat on aspects of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which will convert EU law into U.K. law.

U.K. would have to leave the EU in March 2019, irrespective of whether MPs back or reject the terms of the deal negotiated by Theresa May's government.

Davis on Monday updated MPs on the sixth round of talks which concluded on Friday and told them that they would play a major role and "there cannot be any doubt that Parliament will be intimately involved at every stage.”

Previously, the government had agreed to give MPs a vote on a Commons motion relating to the final Brexit deal.

This vote was supposed to take place before it reached the European Parliament.

Davis pointed out that he still "intended and expected" this to happen but now has even agreed to Labour and Tory MPs' demands for any vote to take place on substantive primary legislation.

He told MPs that the bill would contain the contents of the withdrawal agreement that the U.K. hopes to seal in time ahead of its scheduled departure.

He said that all the key aspects of it, including the financial settlement between the two sides, the future status of U.K. and EU citizens and the terms of any transition will be included and agreed upon.

Davis said, “This means that Parliament will be given time to scrutinise, debate and vote on the final deal we strike with the EU," and added that it was not clear when such a bill would be published.

While a binding vote on a specific exit bill was welcomed by the Labour, which called it a "significant climbdown,” it also said it could not mask the fact that there had been a "profound lack of progress" in the negotiations to date.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer told MPs, "This is a significant climbdown from a weak government on the verge of defeat. For months, Labour has been calling on ministers to guarantee Parliament a final say on the withdrawal agreement. With less than 24 hours before they had to defend their flawed Bill to Parliament, they have finally backed down. However, like everything with this Government, the devil will be in the detail.”

Starmer added, "Ministers must now go further. They need to accept Labour's amendments that would ensure transitional arrangements, and protect jobs and the economy from a cliff edge."

Meanwhile, on Monday, business leaders from both sides of the English Channel urged U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to accelerate talks on Britain’s exit from the EU as uncertainty about future trade relations threatens jobs and investment.

Britain was urged by European business leaders to make concrete proposals on the so-called divorce issues so the negotiations can move forward. 

Raising concerns about time running out, industry groups from Germany, France, Britain and other EU countries deployed representatives to London to attend a meeting in Downing Street on Monday.

Representatives from groups like the CBI and BusinessEurope pressed for a transitional deal that preserves the status quo after Brexit.

The business groups met May at No 10, as well as Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary David Davis and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay.