Theresa May has pledged to give MPs a vote on the final Brexit deal secured by the government with the EU, in a move that could lead to a stand-off with europhile backbench MPs. Parliament will be given the chance to approve a new treaty agreed with the EU following the Article 50 process, a spokesman confirmed, but the vote could come after a deal has already been agreed – so no further changes can be made. In addition, MPs will not be able to prevent the UK leaving the union, which automatically happens two years after the triggering of Article 50.
The move raises fears that pro-remain MPs could block the treaty, putting any agreement with the EU under threat. This has also raised concerns that such a block would be unconstitutional, because it would act against the will of the British people shown through the Brexit vote. Since such a vote would be on the final treaty and not on the negotiating process, it is unlikely to happen before 2019 – extending Brexit uncertainty for a further two years. Also, by the time of the vote, the deal may already have been done, lawyers said.
So while Parliament would have the opportunity to block the treaty by voting against it, it cannot be amended, meaning that a block would be one of protest at the terms, since any deal would likely be better than crashing out of the EU without any deal in place after the two years have elapsed. Any UK desire to extend the negotiating period would require unanimous agreement by the European Council.
Since the final agreement will be put before Parliament for a vote after all the negotiations are completed, this extends the uncertainty right to the end of the Brexit process, because if the plan is voted down, the UK will exit without any agreement.This heaps further pressure on Theresa May’s government. It has also been boxed in by Germany playing hardball with UK over Brexit negotiations by blocking negotiating side channels before Article 50 is triggered. In addition, an EU united front is forming to resist efforts for Britain to find loopholes in the EU’s four freedoms, notably free movement of people in order to have free access to the single market.
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