Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
8 February 2017

Take back control? Only if you’re Theresa May – MPs now have less influence on Brexit

MPs have left themselves no real power to influence the Brexit talks. 

By Stephen Bush

Theresa May secured a complete victory in the Commons last night. Not a single amendments to the Brexit Bill was passed last, thanks to the support of the Conservatives and the DUP. Although there were big names among the list of Tory rebels – Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry and Andrew Tyrie – Downing Street managed to buy off the bulk of the rebels with a “concession” of a vote on the final deal.

As I wrote yesterday, the choice that the government has offered is one of the deal that the PM secures – or no deal at all. In practice, that is not a choice worthy of the name, as there is no deal that May could bring back that will be worse than exit on WTO terms. MPs will no more be given a vote than “a kick in the head or a chicken sandwich” is a menu.

Equally importantly, MPs have no recourse to accept a deal that the PM might reject.  If we are careening towards exit without a deal, there is no way for Parliament to force May to pay that €60bn divorce bill if the rest of the deal is in Britain’s interests.

Now it is over to the Lords. But if the government is vulnerable there, it will likely to be in areas where May has little elite or public support: for example, over the refusal to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living and working in Britain. They might also have some success in codifying the government’s concession of a vote on a deal.

Still, it looks highly likely that May will secure total control over the British end of the Brexit talks. MPs have voted to let her take the credit, but accepted a concession which means they will share the blame. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action