New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
13 March 2017

Brexit bill passed as MPs reject Lords’ amendments

The Commons voted against guaranteeing EU nationals' rights and ensuring a "meaningful vote" on the outcome of the negotiations. 

By George Eaton

Theresa May has got the “clean” Brexit bill she wanted. MPs have rejected the Lords amendments guaranteeing EU nationals’ rights and giving parliament a “meaningful vote” on the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations. They voted 335 to 287 against the former and 331 to 286 against the latter. Just two Tory MPs (Alex Chalk and Dr. Tania Mathias) voted in favour of EU nationals’ rights and none backed a “meaningful vote”. 

Though David Davis made no formal concession to the rebels, he emphasised that he recognised Britain’s “moral responsibility” to the UK’s four million EU citizens. The Brexit secretary also reaffirmed his belief that a “swift agreement” with other European countries would be reached (though the government has squandered a chance to earn goodwill). 

Davis gave no ground on a “meaningful vote” but acknowledged that parliament would have “its say” if the UK left the EU without a new trade agreement (opposition parties and backbenchers could table a motion). Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general and one of the Tory rebels (he abstained), denounced Davis’s stance as “deranged”. He said: “I’m concerned about getting an assurance from [David Davis] that, at the end of the process if there is no deal, which will be a very significant moment in this country’s history, parliament has an opportunity to debate and vote on that.

“Far from that being an obstruction of the process, I would expect that to be part of the normal constitutional process and the government to be seeking the endorsement of the House for that very significant act.

“And I do worry that [Davis], who I think personally may agree with me, has been prevented from saying that at the despatch box. But I’m afraid I’m not prepared to follow processes which appear to me to be, frankly, deranged. There is a clear way of doing thing and, if we follow them, we will come up with the right decision.”

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.

The bill will now return to the Lords where it will be approved. Peers signalled in advance that they would not engage in parliamentary ping-pong – the siz e of the government’s victory means there is no purpose in doing so. After the bill receives Royal Assent, Theresa May will be empowered to trigger Article 50 at the end of this month. Until this afternoon, many Conservatives expected her to do so tomorrow, but after Nicola Sturgeon’s dramatic intervention this morning, May has wisely bided her time. Formally declaring Brexit tomorrow would have been a willfully provocative act after the SNP’s demand for a second referendum. 

Content from our partners
"Heat or eat": how to help millions in fuel poverty
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit