Peers vote to give MPs the final say on Brexit terms

Chukka Umunna

Chukka Umunna

Just hours after Britain's upper House of Lords voted to give Parliament -- rather than the government - the powers to block or delay a final deal on departure from the European Union, trade minister Liam Fox has hit back saying that unelected lawmakers were "trying to block the democratic will of the British people".

Ministers said this risked "weakening" the UK's hand in negotiations.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and ex-ministers Lord Patten of Barnes and Lord Willetts were among 19 Tory rebels to support the cross-party amendment.

Peers have already defeated the government six times, with the vote on the latest amendment tabled by Lord Hailsham marking the seventh defeat.

"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".

Both sides hope to negotiate the UK's withdrawal agreement by this October in order to give the United Kingdom and European Parliaments enough time to debate and vote on it before the moment of departure.

Labour said the vote marked a "hugely significant moment" in the fight for Parliament's "proper role" in Brexit negotiations, which the government continues to fight against at every step.

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Asked what the alternative to a second referendum would be if Parliament voted against the deal reached with Brussels at the end of the negotiations, he replied: "If in the end we have an agreement that the Government wants but Parliament won't agree to, we have the possibility of leaving the European Union without an agreement".

"If Parliament votes down the Article 50 deal, then Parliament must decide what happens next".

Speaking afterwards, he said ministers would consider the implications of the vote.

"It is absolutely right that Parliament is able to scrutinise the final deal".

"Second, 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 negotiations".

Last week Brexit Secretary David Davis said the motion to be considered by MPs on the final deal would be amendable - raising the prospect of MPs having greater influence over the process.

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