The government is facing cross party condemnation after Theresa May refused to guarantee MPs a vote on Brexit

Mark Sands
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Prime Minister Theresa May Appoints Her Cabinet
Davis was named the first ever Brexit secretary under Theresa May during the summer (Source: Getty)

Theresa May's government has been hit with condemnation from MPs across political parties after the Prime Minister refused to guarantee a parliamentary vote on Brexit.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, May suggested that, despite a concession on today's debate to support proper scrutiny of Brexit talks, a vote in parliament remains unlikely.

Noting opportunities for MPs to press the government at Prime Minister's Questions, May listed the creation of the new Brexit select committee, debates and questions in the House with Davis, and the creation of a Great Repeal Bill, but stopped short of vowing to ballot MPs on the her negotiating stance.

“The idea that parliament somehow wasn't going to be able to debate discuss questions and issues.... was frankly completely wrong,” May said.

“Parliament is going to have every opportunity to debate this issue.”

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However, in a House of Commons debate following PMQs, the stance has landed the government in hot water with many MPs, including Remain-supporting members of May's own party.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who campaigned for a Remain vote, accused the government of ignoring the traditions of the House.

“The convention is very clearly established that a major treaty change has to be triggered by an affirmative resolution of this house,” Grieve said.

Long-time Europhile Kenneth Clark added: "I don't think there's a mandate for pulling out the completely open [Single Market] access that we have at the moment."

And former transport minister Clare Perry accused the government of being motivated by ideology ahead of national interest.

Responding to remarks from Brexit secretary David Davis, Perry said: “What we should be setting out is quite clearly how we are going to protect British jobs and businesses and put ideology in the past where it belongs.”

The Tory attacks came after Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer accused the government of “hiding under the cloak of Royal Prerogative”, but perhaps the strongest blasts came from the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.

Clegg, who served as deputy prime minister in a coalition government alongside the Conservatives for five years, accused May of parliamentary hypocrisy.

While in government, Clegg said he had been told by May that a pair of parliamentary debates and votes where necessary when the coalition was working on the opt-outs from EU rules on Justice and Home Affairs rules.

"If it was justifiable for the House of Commons to have, not only a debate, but a vote at the beginning of a negotiation and at its conclusion for something as significant, but nonetheless comparatively narrow, as the JHA opt-out why on earth is the government not coming here today and granting the House exactly thew sme rights and prerogatives for something which is immeasurably more significant?" Clegg said.

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It came after Brexit secretary David Davis hinted the government will publish some information on plans for the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Davis said the government would keep the UK parliament “at least as informed” as European officials ahead of Brexit talks.

“That will be the minimum, and we're going to be considerably beyond the minimum,” Davis said.

He added that he had asked the government's chief whip to secure “a series of debates” for MPs to air their views.

“It would again be very surprising to have those debates without having something before the House,” he said.

However, his officials have now suggested that Davis was not referring to a paper, specifically, and instead promising to update MPs more broadly.

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