Theresa May this evening defeated an attempt to give MPs the right to vote on any Brexit deal before it is signed with the European Union.
Labour backbencher Chris Leslie tried to change the Article 50 Bill currently going through Parliament to give MPs the power to veto any package agreed between the UK and EU before it was rubber-stamped.
His amendment was praised by a number of Tory backbenchers, but despite its cross-party support it was defeated by the Government - 326 to 293.
Seven Tories defied party orders and backed the amendment:
Earlier in the day the Government tried to see off any rebellion by announcing that Parliament would get a vote on the deal after it had been agreed with Brussels – meaning that if MPs rejected it, the UK would leave the EU without a negotiated package.
Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, welcomed the measure, and said: “This is a significant victory for Parliament, and follows months of concerted pressure from Labour.
“Labour has repeatedly said that Parliament must have a meaningful vote on any final Brexit deal – that means MPs are able to vote on the final deal before it is concluded; that the Commons has a debate and vote before the European Parliament does; and that the vote will cover withdrawal from the EU as well as our future relationship with the EU.
“This eleventh hour concession is therefore welcome, but it needs to be firmed up as the Bill progresses through both Houses.”
But veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke – a passionate pro-European – was not convinced the concession was any different to what had already been announced by the Government last week.
Speaking in Parliament this evening, Clarke said it was “exactly what was offered in the White Paper a few days ago”
He added: “The minister has confirmed that the vote is put to Parliament after the deal has been done with the Commission and the Council. It’s a done deal. The European Parliament and this House either take it or leave it, the alternative is the WTO [World Trade Organisation rules].”
Brexit Minister David Jones said he made the announcement to “provide clarity” on the role Parliament would play in the Brexit negotiations.
The debate on the level of scrutiny which Parliament should have in the Brexit process drew heated contributions from both sides.
Former Tory Rail Minister Claire Perry, who would go on to vote in favour of the amendment, urged for calmness to prevail before saying: “I feel sometimes I am sitting alongside colleagues who are like Jihadis in their support for a Hard Brexit. ‘No Brexit is hard enough. Be gone you evil Europeans. We never want you to darken our doors again’.”
Another Tory rebel, Anna Soubry, spoke emotionally about last week’s vote on the Bill, in which she joined Tory colleagues in beginning the process of triggering Article 50.
“We did not vote according to our consciences or our long held beliefs – I did not vote with my conscience and if I’m truthful about it, I’m not sure I voted in the best interests of my constituents,” she said.