Britain will quit the EU ‘without a deal’ if Parliament decides to vote down Theresa May’s final proposals, a Brexit minister has warned.
Lord Callanan suggested that the UK would fall back on basic World Trade Organisation rules if the eventual Brexit deal was rejected by MPs or peers.
Speaking in the House of Lords, his remarks are the clearest yet from any minister of the consequences of losing the “meaningful vote” promised to Tory rebels and Labour last year.
Crossbencher and former judge Baroness Butler-Sloss had asked Callanan what would happen if Parliament decided it didn’t like the final deal the Prime Minister produced after her talks with Brussels.
“If there is a vote in either House, particularly the House of Commons, which rejects whatever the Government put forward, what will the Government do?” she asked.
Callanan replied: “In such circumstances—first, we hope that Parliament will not reject it and we will negotiate for the best possible outcome—that would be an instruction to move ahead without a deal.”
His answer prompted a collective ‘Ah!’ from peers.
Until now ministers have fought shy of being explicit about the hypothetical situation of Parliament voting down any Government plans in a ‘meaningful vote’.
In November 2017, Brexit Secretary David Davis was asked by Owen Paterson for reassurance that the UK would leave the EU on 29 March 2019 even if parliament rejected the final deal in the debate on the proposed bill. Davis then replied: “Yes.”