Peers vote to give MPs the final say on Brexit terms

Lord Callanan

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.

The Government warned that one defeat - giving MPs a decisive final say on the terms of the Brexit deal - would weaken Theresa May's hand in negotiations.

Earlier, May's trade minister, Liam Fox, accused the unelected peers in the upper house of "trying to block the democratic will of the British people".

Lord Howard added his fellow Peers' latest betrayal to the Government's key piece of legislation is "tantamount" to stopping Brexit altogether.

Members of the government have questioned the legitimacy of the House of Lords, which they suggest undermines the "popular vote" as expressed in the referendum on European Union membership.

This means it would only take a small Tory rebellion to create a bottleneck for the Government, especially as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has signalled his support for remaining in a customs union with the EU.

The Government has committed to giving parliament a vote on the final deal but has framed this as a choice of whether to accept the terms it has negotiated with Brussels or reject them and leave without a deal.

"I would urge the Prime Minister to accept this cross-party amendment and recognise that there is no majority in Parliament or the country for a no deal Brexit".

More news: Alfie Evans and the Experts

And he categorically ruled out the United Kingdom being in a some of form of customs union with the EU after Brexit, amid speculation the government could be lining up a "customs partnership" or an EU association deal.

"I think it would be quite hard to get the withdrawal agreement through the House if we don't have it substantively done".

Peers voted by 335 to 244 in favour of the amendment, with 19 Conservative rebels defying the government including former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine.

"If we were in a customs union with the European Union we would have to accept what the EU negotiated in terms of market access to the United Kingdom without the United Kingdom having a voice".

The amendment proposed by Conservative Viscount Hailsham would allow Parliament to determine the government's course of action if MPs rejected the deal or if the United Kingdom and European Union were not able to reach an agreement of any kind.

A second defeat saw peers insist that Parliament should be given a say on the Government's mandate for trade talks with Brussels, while a third was aimed at making sure refugees in Europe would continue to be allowed to join family members in the UK.

The amendment calls for parliament to authorise or not the withdrawal by assessing the substance of the negotiations prior to March 2019.

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