Promises over commons vote on final Brexit deal dismissed as 'fig leaf'
Government promises over a Commons vote on the final Brexit deal have been dismissed as a "fig leaf" by campaigners.
Brexit minister David Jones told MPs that the agreement will need to be approved by the Houses of Commons and Lords and that votes will take place before the European Parliament considers it.
Labour claimed the move as a "significant victory" in response to its repeated demands for a "meaningful" vote at the end of the two-year negotiation process.
But the pressure group Open Britain said it did not go far enough and should be rejected as a "con" by MPs voting on key amendments to a bill which will allow Theresa May to trigger withdrawal talks under Article 50 of the EU treaties.
And Downing Street played down suggestions that it amounted to a concession to potential Conservative rebels, insisting that it merely clarified the timing of the vote promised by Mrs May in her Lancaster House speech last month.
The amendment was "asking for (what) we have already committed to", said a spokesman.
The Number 10 spokesman said that MPs will be offered a choice between the deal reached by the Prime Minister or no deal at all, and will not have an option to demand that Mrs May go back to Brussels to negotiate an improved agreement.
Some Tories have threatened to join forces with opposition MPs over the issue during the committee stage of the EU (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill in the Commons because they were worried about quitting the EU without an agreement, with potentially serious consequences for the economy.
Mr Jones told the Commons: "I can confirm that the Government will bring forward a motion on the final agreement to be approved by both houses of Parliament before it is concluded and we expect and intend that this will happen before the European Parliament debates and votes on the final agreement."
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer later 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 Open Britain supporter and former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie said Mr Jones's offer fell short of a "meaningful" vote.
"The minister refused to give Parliament the option to reject the deal and tell the Government to go back to negotiate a better one," said Mr Leslie.
"And on the nightmare scenario, that we could leave the EU with no deal at all, and face damaging barriers to trade with Europe, it seems Parliament could have no say whatsoever."
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake said: "The Government were rattled enough to offer this fig leaf.
"The pressure must now be intensified until Parliament is granted the power to send the Government back to the negotiating table if a bad deal is rejected."
And Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said: "MPs must not be duped by the Government's attempt to quell unrest on their backbenches.”
"The vote they're offering, which will give MPs a choice between an extreme Brexit and falling off a cliff edge into World Trade Organisation trade rules, isn't a concession, it's an ultimatum."