David Davis forced into embarrassing concession over Brexit vote timing as EU Withdrawal Bill gets date for Commons return

 
Catherine Neilan
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David Davis Announces Brexit Negotiations Update
Parliament will be involved throughout, Davis said - but he could not guarantee timings (Source: Getty)

David Davis has been forced to admit he does not know when Parliament will be able to vote on the final Brexit deal - and failed to guarantee it will be before the end of the Article 50 process.

His comments come as the government confirmed the date for the EU Withdrawal Bill's return to the Commons - where it is expected to face huge resistance from both Tory rebels as well as political opponents.

The Brexit secretary had to answer an urgent question from Labour counterpart Keir Starmer after he appeared to say that MPs would be unlikely to have the chance to approve the deal until after the UK had officially left the European Union, because an agreement would not be struck "at the 59th minute of the 11th hour".

However this was later contradicted by Theresa May who said she was "confident ... that we will be able to achieve that deal in time for parliament to have the vote that we committed to.” Davis' own department then issued a statement supporting May's words.

But today Davis could only reiterate that it was "our intent and our expectation" that MPs would be able to vote on it before the March 2019 deadline, and before the European Parliament also voted.

"Clearly we cannot say for certain at this stage when this vote will be," Davis said

"There will be no doubt parliament will be involved throughout," he added.

But his responses were rejected by policy makers on all sides. Starmer rubbished his position, saying; "What a mess"

Tory MP and chair of the Treasury Select Committee Nicky Morgan said she was "deadly serious" about an amendment to EU withdrawal bill, which would ensure that MPs get a say on the final deal.

"Reports have reached members on this side that the secretary of state doesn't think those Conservative members who have signed the amendment are serious about supporting it if we need to," she said. "Can I tell him we are deadly serious, and it would be better for the government to attempt a concession strategy on having a withdrawal agreement secured by statute sooner rather than later for all concerned."

Labour MP Chris Bryant noted that if Davis were a backbencher, he would almost certainly support such an amendment.

The extent of a potential rebellion against the government will soon made clear, as the Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom confirmed the EU Withdrawal Bill will enter Committee Stage on 14 November.

Dexeu issued a statement, saying: "Nearly 400 amendments have been tabled and we are looking at those with the utmost seriousness. We look forward to continuing the debate and working with Parliament to ensure that we deliver a functioning statute book on exit day."

More to follow..

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