Just hours before British Prime Minister Theresa May heads over to Brussels for a two-day summit with EU member states, the MPs won a significant vote on an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that gives them legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal.
The 309-305 vote is the first loss for Mrs. May in the House of Commons, and it gives the MPs a vote on the final deal after a Brussels approval and prior to ratification.
Several attempts have been made to change the wording of the bill, but this is the first time a tabled amendment has been pushed through.
Unless the vote is overturned by the government in a subsequent stage, the guarantee will be a “meaningful” one because an earlier vote offered by the government would have still left ministers with the power to bypass Parliament in how the withdrawal agreement is implemented.
The MP who tabled the amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, Dominic Grieve, said that the bill “couldn’t be allowed to stay in the condition it was in. The right thing is carrying out Brexit in an orderly, sensible way, which has a proper process to it. I’ve been studious in not trying to interfere with the government’s negotiating strategy, I’ve hardly asked a question.”
In a statement after the vote, the government said:
“We are disappointed that Parliament has voted for this amendment despite the strong assurances that we have set out.
“We are as clear as ever that this Bill, and the powers within it, are essential.
“This amendment does not prevent us from preparing our statute book for exit day. We will now determine whether further changes are needed to the Bill to ensure it fulfils its vital purpose.”
This is certainly an embarrassing loss for the Prime Minister, who faces EU member states on Thursday to decide whether or not the EU will move forward to having trade talks with the UK.
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