UK ministers attack Britain's upper house over Brexit vote

04 May, 2018, 10:47 | Author: Grady King
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"What this amendment would do is weaken the UK's hand in the Brexit negotiations by giving Parliament unprecedented powers to instruct the Government to do anything with regard to the negotiations, including trying to keep the United Kingdom in the European Union indefinitely".

During the debate, Tory spokesman Lord Callanan said Parliament's vote would be binding and if it did reject the deal, the Article 50 process - determining the timetable for leaving - would "kick in" and the United Kingdom would leave.

The Prime Minister is looking at plans to give European Union nationals a deal "very similar" to current free movement rules.

Brexit Minister Lord Callanan said: "It is absolutely right that Parliament is able to scrutinise the final deal, and that is why we have already committed to giving both Houses a vote on the final deal".

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Ministers face a heavy defeat in the Lords today on a central plank of their Brexit strategy.

But former Conservative leader Lord Howard said the idea of effectively giving Parliament a veto over Brexit - which the public voted for in a 2016 referendum - was "fundamentally misconceived". This would give MPs and Lords four months to decide what to do next before Britain's scheduled exit date of March 2019.

The cross-party amendment also calls on legislators to first seek approval from Parliament for the mandate of the second negotiating phase.

David Davis told the Lords EU committee he was "not at all sure" there will be agreement on the "border backstop" by June.

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"Whatever our party affiliation, our duty as parliamentarians is to our country and our conscience", he said.

"The stakes would be high. So at this stage, we should not close off any options for what might happen - more time to negotiate, a pause in the process or anything else".

"The prime minister said when the bill returns to the House of Commons, the government will be robust".

"As for individual amendments, we have said we will look at those and discuss those in due course", the spokesman said, adding that if the government's hands were tied in the talks, "that's not something we believe is in the UK's interest". In a bad-tempered debate, Tory peer Lord Dobbs accused the rebels of vowing "to do everything they possibly can to destroy Brexit".

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