David Davis has refused to rule out going back to the negotiating table with the EU to change the Brexit deal if parliament orders him to do so.
Appearing before the MPs on Wednesday, the Brexit secretary was asked what would happen if the Commons voted in favour of a “meaningful amendment” to the proposed agreement that instructed the government to “go back and get another deal”.
Davis said he was ”not going to speculate” on how he would respond but agreed the government would “respect” the outcome of any vote.
Speaking to the Commons Brexit Committee, Davis said while the government had changed how it pushed its Brexit legislation through parliament it was not simply “winging it”.
The government has previously said if parliament votes against its final Brexit deal then the UK will leave the EU with no deal at all.
But Davis confirmed today the motion put before parliament this autumn will be amendable.
Many pro-Remain backbench MPs want to use the vote to force a second referendum or make the government to go back and renegotiate a different agreement with Brussels.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock asked Davis:
“If a meaningful amendment is to be on the table and the government is to respect that amendment, which by definition is what makes it meaningful, a very meaningful amendment would be that we want to have a deal with the EU but we don’t think the deal government has brought back from Brussels is satisfactory and we therefore instruct government to go back and get another deal. Are you saying to us today, confirming, the government would do that?”
The Brexit secretary replied:
“I am not going to speculate what government will do in response to an amendment which has not yet been laid let alone passed by the House.”
Davis added: “As practical matter I’m not entirely sure how much force a government sent back with its tail between its legs by parliament would have in such a negotiation - but that’s a different matter.”
Speaking to the MPs, Davis said confirmed it any UK-EU deal would collapse if parliament voted against it.
“The government will respect votes it brings to the House,” he said. “The Government is unlikely to put a vote to the House which it doesn’t intend to take properly seriously. If the House rejects the proposed negotiation, that negotiation will fall.”
Davis was speaking ahead of a meeting on Wednesday afternoon of a Cabinet sub-committee dubbed Mrs May’s “Brexit war cabinet”, which will bring together senior ministers to drive negotiations forward in the vital coming months.