It looks like British MPs will be given the chance to vote on the Brexit deal Theresa May’s government manages to negotiate — but it will be far too late to have a meaningful impact.
The House of Commons will be asked to ratify any agreement Britain reaches with the other 27 EU member states at the end of the two-year negotiation process, which gets underway when Article 50 is triggered, the Times reports.
This comes after James Eadie QC, who represented the government during the historic High Court case which ended yesterday, said he understands that any agreement “will be subject to ratification.”
The case, which Business Insider attended, related to whether Theresa May is legally obliged to secure parliamentary approval before invoking Article 50. A verdict is expected in mid-November.
However, this parliamentary intervention will not have the impact that some staunch Remainers may be hoping for.
Firstly, this vote will take place at the end of the Article 50 process. This means that even if the majority of MPs reject the terms of Britain’s departure — which is possible given key Brexit ministers have signalled towards a hard Brexit — it will be too late to block Britain from actually departing. Once the Article 50 process is done, Britain is out.
Secondly, although MPs may have the power to reject the prospective terms of Britain’s exit, they will not have the power to amend the deal or make the changes they deem necessary.
In effect, what MPs have been granted is a choice between two options:
1) Lead Britain out of the 28-nation bloc under the terms negotiated by Theresa May’s administration.
2) Lead Britain out of the 28-nation bloc with no new trade or diplomatic deals in place.
For Remain MPs, supporting the former will be an unappealing prospect. But going down the route of blocking May’s deal and leading Britain out of the EU with no arrangement in place would unleash a level of chaos which would make the current uncertainty feel like absolutely nothing.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a prominent Brexiteer, summed this up when he said: “this [vote] allows MPs to make a complete muddle out of Brexit but it won’t stop it happening in the first place.”
This is why Labour has not welcomed the news with open arms. The news does not really do anything for the Remain or soft Brexit cause.
Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said the vote would be “too late” for parliament to influence the process and instead would merely leave MPs between a “rock and a hard place.”
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