Theresa May calls bluff of Europhile MPs over Brexit with Commons vote
Theresa May has dramatically announced that MPs will on Wednesday be given the opportunity to vote on her timetable for triggering Article 50 and formally beginning Brexit. Just over 24 hours after the Supreme Court began considering whether Parliament should be allowed a vote on Article 50, the Prime Minister formally amended a backbench motion on Brexit. MPs will be asked to back the Government’s plan to formally serve Article 50 by the end of March 2017. Mrs May also committed to revealing the official plan for Brexit before the process begins.
The unexpected News announcement came after months of the Government refusing to give a “running commentary” on Brexit, or formally to allow Parliament a vote on the process.Wednesday’s vote was welcomed by both Leave and Remain campaigners, with Brexiteers backing the Prime Minister’s decision to finally tackle the issue head-on. Downing Street sources said that it was now time to “see if those who say they accept the result really do”.
MPs and Remain campaigners have spent months plotting how to undermine the result of the referendum – while saying they support the will of the people – and will now have to reveal their intentions.Conservative MPs will be forced to support the amendment although a small number are expected to either abstain or vote against the Government.
Labour also said on Tuesday night that it would back the amendment, although it was unclear whether its MPs would support the position.The Liberal Democrats and SNP are expected to vote in defiance of the referendum result in an attempt to block Brexit.
The Supreme Court is to continue sitting on Wednesday and Thursday and may refuse to accept the result of the Parliamentary vote, which is non-binding.Judges may demand that Parliament goes further and passes a piece of legislation which details exactly how Brexit will be negotiated.Although Mrs May is expected to win Wednesday’s vote, which is only being held in the House of Commons, passing full legislation through both the lower and upper houses of Parliament would prove far more problematic.
Steve Baker, a leading Eurosceptic Conservative MP, said: “Since 2010 many of us have been scalded for trying to give the people their say on the referendum.”Now is a great opportunity for all those who have said they respect the result to do so by supporting the Government. It’s time to put up or shut up.
“The Prime Minister intervened after Labour tabled a motion in the Commons in a bid to force her into “publishing the Government’s plans for leaving the European Union”.Anna Soubry, a former employment minister who is campaigning for the UK to stay in the Single Market, had said that she and up to 40 other Tory MPs could rebel and back the Labour motion because it “transcended party politics”.