House of Lords votes to give UK Parliament 'meaningful say' on Brexit

The UK House of Lords has given its backing to a motion that could force Prime Minister Theresa May to let the British Parliament set the terms of Brexit.

House of Lords | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

01 May 2018

In a key vote on Monday, the Lords agreed to strengthen the terms of Parliament’s “meaningful” vote on any Brexit deal.

The outcome gives MPs and peers a say over what should happen if the UK government fails to agree a deal with the EU, or if the deal it reaches is rejected by Parliament.

The Lords had already passed an amendment that would have given the UK Parliament a more meaningful say on Brexit, but it was overturned by the Conservatives in the Commons.


Brexit ministers have so far offered a ‘take it or leave it’ vote on the final Brexit deal, meaning the option of a ‘no deal’ was still on the table.

This meant Britain could simply leave the bloc without an agreement on a future relationship were one not to be struck by 30 March next year.

The Lords’ vote on Monday was welcomed by Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary.

He said, “This is a hugely significant moment in the fight to ensure Parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no deal situation.

“Labour won the argument at the end of last year for Parliament to be given a meaningful vote on the terms of our withdrawal from the EU. And we are clear that it must be just that: a meaningful vote.

“If Parliament votes down the Article 50 deal, then Parliament must decide what happens next. Under no circumstances can the Prime Minister be given a blank cheque to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal.

“I would urge the Prime Minister to accept this cross-party amendment and recognise that there is no majority in Parliament or the country for a no deal Brexit.”

But UK Brexit Secretary David Davis said the amendment “tries to secure a vote for Parliament before the negotiations have concluded” and that it “demands specific votes by artificial deadlines which, if not met, would give Parliament the power to micromanage the Government on how to carry out these [Brexit] negotiations.” 

He added, “The amendment proposes giving Parliament the power to direct the government on anything relating to the negotiations - including extending the negotiation process and keeping the UK in the EU indefinitely.”

Davis warned,  “Those who want to overturn the result of the referendum have been calling for a ‘no Brexit option’ for months, and this amendment would grant it to them.”


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