Parliament has no veto right over British people says Davis
Date: Monday, 13 March 2017
Publication: The News Line
TORY Brexit Secretary David Davis yesterday urged MPs to reject the two House of Lords amendments to the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. One guarantees a ‘meaningful’ parliamentary vote on the final exit package.
Davis urged MPs not to ‘tie the prime minister’s hands’, claiming the government was working on ‘a contingency plan’ in case a deal on leaving the EU could not be reached. He pledged that citizens’ rights in the UK and Europe will be ‘the first thing’ discussed in Brexit talks.
He also insisted that neither of the Houses of Parliament had a veto right over a decision of the British people. MPs will debate the Brexit bill today after peers insisted on more protection for EU citizens living in the UK and on a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final terms. If MPs pass the bill, Theresa May could trigger Article 50 as early as tomorrow.
Davis told the Andrew Marr Show he believed it was ‘not remotely likely’ that there would be a complete breakdown in negotiations. He said: ‘The simple truth is, we have been planning for the contingency, all the various outcomes, all the possible outcomes. It’s not just my team, it’s the whole of Whitehall, it’s every single department. But, understand, it’s the contingency plan. The aim is to get a good outcome.’
Pressed on whether a rejection by Parliament of the deal would send the UK back to the negotiating table, he said: ‘There is a limited time on this… it’s a two-year time on Article 50 so there’ll be a limit to which you can do that. Secondly what we can’t have is either House of Parliament reversing the decision of the British people – they haven’t got a veto.’
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Davis, said attaching conditions to the bill would undermine the PM May’s negotiating stance, sending her into ‘this vital negotiation with one hand tied behind her back’. However, Labour, has appealed to May to let the amendments go through.
In a letter sent to her on Friday, Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, and Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, urged May to ‘reflect and reconsider on the overwhelming case to act on these two specific issues as this is the final opportunity to put vital guarantees and protections into legislation’.
Davis has expressed concerns that a handful of Tory MPs might rebel, potentially allowing the amendments to stand. Even if the bill passes the House of Commons unchanged, it will go back to the House of Lords, raising the possibility the amendments will be re-imposed, triggering huge calls for the unelected House of Lords to be shut down.