The UK will leave the EU without a Brexit agreement if MPs vote down proposed legislation which seeks to implement a deal, David Davis has said.
The Brexit Secretary said Parliament will be given a formal vote on the final Brexit deal before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.
The deal covering “withdrawal” issues will only hold if it is approved by MPs and peers in a new piece of legislation to put it into British law, Mr Davis said.
Should MPs vote down the new piece of legislation, then Britain will leave the EU on March 29, 2019, with no deal, Mr Davis confirmed.
The Tory MP announced a Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, which MPs will be able to amend, to cover important areas such as citizens’ rights, the so-called divorce bill and a transition period.
Mr Davis said the new legislation will provide “certainty and clarity” as Britain leaves the EU, ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston tweeted that the 68-year-old’s announcement was a “potentially important concession to Tory rebels” ahead of potential rebellions on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill this week.
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There are fears that pro-EU Tories are willing to rebel on the Withdrawal Bill in order to ensure a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Davis said: “It’s clear that we need to take further steps to provide clarity and certainty both in the negotiations and at home, regarding the implementation of any agreement into United Kingdom law.
“I can now confirm that once we have reached an agreement we will bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement the agreement.
“This confirms that the major policy set out in the withdrawal agreement will be directly implemented into UK law by primary legislation, not by secondary legislation with the Withdrawal Bill.
“This also means that Parliament will be given time to debate, scrutinise and vote on the final agreement we strike with the European Union.
“This agreement will only hold if Parliament approves it.”
However, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer slammed Mr Davis’ proposal as a “significant climbdown from a weak Government on the verge of defeat” and also called for the Government to accept amendments to the Bill which Labour had previously proposed.
“For months, Labour has been calling on ministers to guarantee Parliament a final say on the withdrawal agreement,” Sir Keir said.
“With less than 24 hours before they had to defend their flawed Bill to Parliament, they have finally backed down.
“However, like everything with this Government, the devil will be in the detail.
“Ministers must now go further. They need to accept Labour’s amendments that would ensure transitional arrangements, and protect jobs and the economy from a cliff edge.”
Members of Mr Davis’ own party also condemned the vote, with MP Heidi Allen tweeting: “Pointless if we have enshrined a drop dead date in the Bill, & get a deal at 11th hour! There’d be no time!
“And also offers no safeguard if no deal is reached. Unacceptable.”