Theresa May’s Government has tabled an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which has angered Remainer MPs.
The Prime Minister is facing the biggest parliamentary bust-up yet on her flagship Brexit legislation after a compromise designed to keep critics in her own party on board was denounced as “unacceptable” by Tory Remainers.
The move was branded “sneaky” by one backbencher while another senior pro-EU Tory said the wording of a Government amendment was changed at the last minute to deny MPs the chance of blocking a “no deal” Brexit.
Peers are to vote on Monday on a proposal to give MPs the power to dictate the Government’s response if it fails to reach a deal with Brussels as a potentially bloody round of “parliamentary ping-pong” gets under way.
Designed to address concerns aired by pro-EU Conservative backbenchers, the amendment suggests that Parliament should have a say on the final Brexit deal.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Viscount Hailsham has tabled an amendment in the House of Lords along the same lines as the proposals put forward in the Commons earlier this week by former attorney general Dominic Grieve.
Mr Grieve’s amendment would have given Parliament the power to dictate the next steps if the Government failed to achieve a Brexit deal by February 2019.
It was not put to a vote on Tuesday, though, after Theresa May met potential rebels to assure them of concessions.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Grieve as described the amendment as “unacceptable”.
“At the end of the process something was inexplicably changed, which had not been agreed,” Mr Grieve is quoted as saying.
“The Government has made the motion unamendable, contrary to the usual methods of the House of Commons, and therefore it cannot be accepted.
Despite the gesture, Remain-backing Conservative backbencher Anna Soubry suggested the Government amendment may not meet the rebels’ requirements.
“I understand the Govt has tabled an amendment that has not been agreed by Dominic Grieve,” wrote Ms Soubry in a tweet.
“Grateful for the conversations but without consultation what was agreed earlier today has been changed.”
The Government’s amendment sets out what must happen if the Prime Minister announces before January 21 2019 that no deal has been reached with the EU either on the withdrawal agreement or the future relationship.
Under these circumstances, a minister must make a statement in Parliament within 14 days and give MPs an opportunity to vote.
However, the vote would be on “a motion in neutral terms”, merely stating that the House has considered the statement.