Theresa May has ruled out a fresh parliamentary vote on the terms of Brexit, even as a Leave-backing MP compares Downing Street's approach to “EU tyranny”.
Yesterday a cross-party band of MPs demanded that parliament be granted approval of the final nature of the UK's departure from the EU, and in particular any future participation in the Single Market.
The group, which included former Labour and Lib Dem leaders, as well as two former Tory frontbenchers, argue the government has no mandate to end the UK's Single Market membership.
And today, a Leave-supporting Conservative has accused May of a “fundamentally undemocratic, unconstitutional approach” to leaving the EU.
Stephen Phillips, a QC and member of parliament's public spending watchdog, said : “I and many others did not exercise our vote in the referendum so as to restore the sovereignty of this Parliament only to see what we regarded as the tyranny of the European Union replaced by that of a government that apparently wishes to ignore the view of the house on the most important issue facing the nation.”
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However, a Downing Street spokesman today said a fresh parliamentary vote risked allowing MPs to overturn the verdict of the June referendum.
They said it was “absolutely necessary” for parliament to scrutinise the Brexit process, but added: “Having a second vote, or a vote to second guess the will of the British people is not an acceptable way forward”.
Separately, Downing Street has also joined the retreat from controversial policies which could have forced companies to publicly disclose the proportion of their workforce from outside of the UK.
Home secretary Amber Rudd unveiled the plans at the Conservative party conference, vowing to “flush out” businesses that were failing to take advantage of the UK workforce.
But businesses have reacted with uproar, and within 24 hours Rudd said the plans remained subject to consultation, while defence secretary Michael Fallon and education secretary Justine Greening were similarly conciliatory in interviews yesterday.
And today, Downing Street has joined the retreat, saying only that companies “may” be asked to provide information to government if a consultation validated the proposal, and that any data gathered would not be published.
However, a spokesman for May also reiterated the government's desire to tackle net migration, and make sure that despite current record highs of employment, opportunities remain for British workers.
“The issue is really how many more British people can we get into work and for those people who want a job the government is determined to help them get that job.”