PRO-REMAIN MPs will today begin their attempt to block Brexit in the House of Commons and derail the Prime Minister’s Article 50 plans.
The Government will this afternoon take the next step in seeking MP’s consent for Theresa May to trigger Article 50 and kickstart EU divorce talks.
Brexit Secretary David Davis will open two days of debate on the Government’s proposed European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
Mr Davis will say: “It is not a Bill about whether or not the UK should leave the EU, or how it should do so.
“It is simply about implementing a decision already made, a point of no return already passed. We asked the people of the UK if they wanted to leave the EU; they decided they did."
If passed, the Bill will hand the Prime Minister the approval to formally notify the EU of Britain’s departure by the end of March.
But, at the second reading of the Bill today and tomorrow, pro-Remain MPs have launched five attempts at blocking the proposed legislation through wrecking amendments to the legislation.
Tory MP John Penrose, vice-chair of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit MPs and a former constitution minister, outlined each wrecking amendment to Express.co.uk, with “some that basically don’t accept the principle of the referendum at all”.
THE FIVE ATTEMPTS TO BLOCK ARTICLE 50:1) Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas is leading an effort to block the Article 50 Bill on the grounds it “fails in particular to guarantee the UK’s future membership of both the Single Market and customs union” and “ensure the continuation of free movement”.
Mr Penrose said: “This basically translates as ‘fails to guarantee we stay in the EU’. So that’s, broadly speaking, ‘we disagree with the result of the referendum, we don’t accept the democratic verdict’.
“Those supporting these amendments have failed to get to grips with the principle behind the referendum.
“We must respect democracy and remember that the June 23 result attracted the highest turnout for a quarter of a century – more people voted for Brexit than for anything in British democratic history, ever."
2) The SNP will attempt to derail Article 50 by claiming the Government has “set out no provision for effective consultation with the devolved administrations on implementing Article 50” within the Bill and has “left unanswered a range of detailed questions covering many policy areas”.
Mr Penrose said: “This is trying to set up a chicken and egg thing by saying ‘we don’t want to trigger Article 50 until we know a lot more details about what we’re going to get’.
“Of course, the EU have said we’re not going to have that conversation until after you trigger Article 50. So that’s basically a rather elegant way of trying to avoid ever triggering Article 50 so we never, ever leave. A sort of Hotel California option.
“They’re also claiming there’s been no effective consultation when in fact there’s been loads of consultation over the last six months. But what they mean by consultation is they want a veto, which the Supreme Court said they can’t have.”
3) A rebel group of Labour MPs, led by former shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander and defeated leadership contender Owen Smith, will launch an attempt to block the Bill because “the Government has failed to give assurances which safeguard British interests in the Single Market”.
They also suggest there should be a second EU referendum or parliamentary vote on whether the UK quits the Single Market, as Mrs May has promised.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has ordered his MPs not to vote against Article 50, but Mr Penrose said: “The interesting one will be the Labour rebel amendment where it looks as though there will be enough rebels to cause Jeremy Corbyn quite a lot of embarrassment but not nearly enough to actually cause a defeat or change the Bill.”
4) The Liberal Democrats will argue the Bill cannot pass because “it does not provide a mechanism for the people of the UK to have a vote… on the terms of the new relationship between the UK and the EU”.
Mr Penrose said: “This is kind of putting a false choice in front of the British people because these guys must know you can’t have a referendum on ‘do we like the deal or should we stay in’
“It won’t actually be possible to hold that referendum. It will either be ‘do we like this deal or do we leave with no deal’ because by the time you can have a second referendum we will have left already.
“So you can’t have a referendum on staying in when you’ve already gone. They must know that that’s actually a false choice and that’s not really being straight with the British people.”
5) Plaid Cymru MPs will also attempt to block the Bill because the Government has “failed to ensure continued full and unfettered access to the European Single Market” through the UK joining the European Economic Area and European Free Trade Area.
This is the so-called ‘Norway option’ for Single Market access, which would require the UK to retain the EU’s free movement rules and contribute to the EU budget.
WILL THEY SUCCEED?Each of these amendments will be debated over two days, with votes to be held tomorrow.
If the Bill survives unscathed, it will return to the House of Commons for a third reading and final vote on February 8 when it will then pass to the House of Lords.
Despite the attempts to block the Article 50 Bill in the House of Commons over the next two days, Mr Penrose suggested the Government should enjoy a relatively smooth ride “barring someone trying some procedural weirdness” with parliamentary rules.
Labour will only try to introduce their planned seven official amendments at a later stage in the process.
Mr Penrose added he would be “amazed” if any Tory MPs supported the current wrecking amendments.
He said: “In principle most people are accepting the result of the referendum. I voted Remain in June but I’m a democrat first and most of my colleagues feel the same way.”