Brexit secretary David Davis has warned MPs against triggering a “chaotic” exit from the European Union by voting against the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill this evening.
MPs will vote on passing the bill to committee stage after two days of debating the legislation, which will allow for EU laws to be moved onto the UK’s statute books.
Top-flight figures within the Conservative party have been forced to publicly call for their MPs’ support after the government lost its majority in June.
Davis said: “Providing certainty and stability in the lead up to our withdrawal is a key priority. Businesses and individuals need reassurance that there will be no unexpected changes to our laws after exit day and that is exactly what the Repeal Bill provides.”
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Blair urged MPs not to vote down party lines. In a paper for his think tank, the Tony Blair Foundation, he said the UK could still curb immigration and remain within the EU.
His intervention was dismissed by Conservative MPs, however. Defence secretary Michael Fallon said Blair needed to “get over it” and accept the country’s decision to leave.
“It’s a bit late now, this epiphany, I'm not sure where he’s been; well, we know where he’s been, he’s been travelling the world,” Fallon said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
“The country has taken it’s decision, we’re leaving the European Union now, and that means freedom of movement has to end whether we like it or not.”
Pro-EU Conservative Ken Clarke said Blair's expectations were “hopeless” and that politicians should focus on constructing a new relationship with the bloc.
The government should instead aim to negotiate a transition period of up to four years to prevent an economic shock, he said.
Labour has whipped its MPs to vote against the bill on the grounds that so-called Henry VIII clauses hand too much power to the executive to edit legislation. However, it is thought that the most detailed scrutiny of the bill will take place during the committee stage, when the legislation will be picked apart line-by-line.