There is not enough time to give MPs a meaningful vote on the Government's final Brexit deal with the European Union, David Davis has said.
The Brexit Secretary on Saturday night instructed MPs to remove House of Lords amendments from the Article 50 Bill, one of which would give MPs a meaningful vote to accept or reject the Brexit deal once it had been negotiated.
The Government says MPs can have a vote but that if they reject the negotiated package there will simply be an automatic hard Brexit on WTO terms without any deal – widely regarded as the worst possible Brexit.
This means that MPs would be effectively unable to reject even a terrible deal obtained by ministers.
Asked on Sunday morning why MPs could not be given a more meaningful vote that could send the Government back to the negotiating table to get a better deal, Mr Davis said time was limited and that he could not risk MPs derailing Brexit.
“First thing is, there is a limited time on this. We didn’t choose the timetable, it’s a two year time limit on Article 50. So there’ll be a limit to what you can do,” he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.
“Secondly, what we can’t have is either House of Parliament reversing the decision for the British people. They haven’t got a veto – what does it mean otherwise?
“I’m sure there’ll be vote throughout this process, there’ll be a vote on the deal we strike, it will be a ‘meaningful vote’ in the sense that they accept it or not.”
Mr Davis said Britain would leave the EU by March 2019 – two years after the Government triggers Article 50 – though he accepted that there might be some transitional arrangements.
The Article 50 process is timed to take two years; Britain would by default crash out of the union on WTO terms if no deal was made during that time. However, the process can be extended by a unanimous vote of EU member states.
A leaked Treasury document revealed by The Independent this morning warns that crashing out onto WTO tariffs will cause a “major economic shock” and is worse than any other option.
The unpublished 36-page report states that relying on WTO tariffs would have serious consequences for companies, jobs and food prices.