Theresa May has been criticised and told to remember her “earlier words” after it emerged that she previously called for MPs to have the right to veto negotiations with the European Union.
The Prime Minister, who has signaled that she wants to trigger Article 50 to begin Brexit negotiations in March, has resisted pressure to give Parliament a say on her plans before she begins two years of formal exit negotiations.
However, in October Downing Street said it was “very likely” MPs would be able to vote on the final Brexit agreement.
In 2007 May, then the shadow leader of the Commons, wrote that ministers should have to detail their strategy to a Commons committee “and gain its approval” before talks with the EU, the Independent reported.
May, speaking about European legislation and restoring Parliamentary sovereignty, added: “Our feeble system of scrutiny undermines Parliament’s ability to check or restrain the Government’s actions in Europe.
“In our constitution, Parliament is supposed to be sovereign, but this weakness means that in practice it is not. We therefore need a system that gives Parliament real powers over ministers, enough time to scrutinise new EU laws, and the transparency to restore public trust in the process.”
May’s comments were contained in a pamphlet for the right-wing think tank Politeia.
Downing Street said the 2007 comments related to how ministers negotiated policy while inside the EU, the BBC reported.
Former business minister Anna Soubry said the comments showed the PM “recognised the importance of Parliament”. She told the Times: “Ministers can’t go off and negotiate with the EU without some form of scrutiny, guidance and approval from Parliament.”
Labour MP Pat McFadden, a former shadow minister for Europe, told the newspaper that May’s remarks shows she “does in fact believe that ministers should get parliamentary approval for negotiating strategies with Europe”.
He added: “Sooner or later, ministers will realise that they can’t support Brexit in the name of parliamentary sovereignty and deny parliament a meaningful role in what Brexit means.”
Former education secretary Nicky Morgan said May was “spot on” in 2007, and added to the Independent: “In 2016 MPs aren’t asking for a veto but they do want a say and we hope the Prime Minister will remember her earlier words.”
Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister who speaks for the Liberal Democrats on Brexit, told the newspaper that he agrees “entirely” with what May wrote in 2007 and said it was a “pity she appears to have changed her mind”.