Two of the three MPs for Brighton and Hove were rebuffed by the Brexit Secretary David Davis in a House of Commons debate yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 24 January).
Cabinet minister Mr Davis, a long-serving Conservative MP, opened a debate about “article 50” – the legal device for triggering Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The debate followed a Supreme Court judgment which ruled that the government needed to pass a law in Parliament before it could invoke article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.
The Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, said after the judges’ verdict and the Commons debate yesterday: “Earlier today the government lost the case in the Supreme Court over whether Parliament should have a say over the triggering of article 50.
“This case is a win for parliamentary democracy and a blow for those ministers who planned to railroad Brexit through without any proper scrutiny.
“The spotlight now falls on MPs – and in particular the Labour Party – to properly scrutinise the government’s plans and act accordingly.
“That must mean that Labour rethink the support they’ve given to triggering article 50 prematurely and instead join those of us who refuse to be pushed into Theresa May’s artificial Brexit timetable.
“In the debate in Parliament today I urged the Brexit Minister, David Davis, to give an assurance that the final vote in the House of Commons would take place early enough to give a chance for further negotiations.”
In the Commons she said: “The final vote offered by the government on the negotiated package will not be meaningful unless they also guarantee that, if there is a vote against the withdrawal treaty, we will have an option to continue talks with the EU for a better deal rather than simply falling out with no deal at all.
“Can the Secretary of State guarantee that we will have that vote in time for such further discussion to happen?”
Mr Davis said: “That is of a piece with those arguments that say that we want to have a second referendum so that we can revisit this.
“What it does is to give a prize to somebody who is trying to put up the worst possible negotiation for us.
“There are plenty of members of the European Union that want to force us into changing our mind and going back inside and we do not want to do anything that allows or encourages that to happen.
“The honourable lady is not right to say that the vote is meaningless. For a start, the Select Committee and the Opposition both asked for it.
“In addition, it will be – I repeat this again – the last of many, many, many votes and debates on major legislation.”
Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, was also given a brush off. He said: “The Secretary of State reminded us that our job is to do what is in the best interest of our constituents.
“If I do not believe that, between now and March, the guarantees offered by this government will protect everything that is great about my city, surely the right honourable gentleman would agree with me that I cannot support this timescale.”
Mr Davis, who served as Europe Minister under John Major in the 1990s, said: “I am not about to protect the honourable gentleman from his constituents, I am afraid.
“My comment to him is this: we are in a negotiation. If he can point out to me a negotiation that had guarantees before it started, I would be interested to hear about it.”
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