David Davis puts the government on collision course with the House of Lords over Brexit approval

Mark Sands
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Davis previously said it would be "improbable" for the UK to retain single market membership at the cost of migration reform (Source: Getty)

Brexit secretary David Davis has put the government on collision course with the House of Lords after slapping down demands from a committee of peers for a parliamentary vote on Brexit.

The House of Lords constitutional committee today warned that the government should not trigger Britain's departure from the EU without “explicit parliamentary approval”.

The Lords said parliament should take “a central role in the decision to trigger the Article 50 process, in the subsequent negotiation process, and in approving or otherwise the final terms under which the UK leaves the EU.”

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But addressing the Foreign Affairs Committee, Davis said that while a degree of parliamentary debate over the terms of Brexit was reasonable, “it is not for parliament to gainsay the view of the British people.”

“A proposal that could put parliament in opposition to the people over something as simple as this is an extraordinary one,” he said.

Nonetheless, Davis admitted the government would need a degree of parliamentary ratification in order to secure the UK's departure from the EU, and committee chair Crispin Blunt suggested the Lords could summon a majority to vote against Brexit altogether.

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However, he said: “My hope and intention is that we will have a majority in both houses. What the government is doing is carrying out the biggest mandate that has ever been given to a government by the British people.

“It is a very clear mandate, and the House of Lords would be quite unwise not to take that mandate seriously.”

Davis' comments came at the end of the lengthy session with MPs that also saw the Brexit secretary concede the government has yet to come to a view on passporting rights for financial services which allow the City to operate across Europe.

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He said the government would take representations from across the City, but said the importance of passporting would differ for institutions, citing differences between retail, wholesale and investment banks.

“We have some thoughts about how to design the next step,” Davis said, but admitted these were “incomplete”.

“In operational terms, if you take into account that Brussels and London largely shut down in August, in operations terms we've been operating for four weeks. Some of these things we want to ground more closely than we have before talking of them.”

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