With the House of Lords passing two amendments to the bill to activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and begin the process of leaving the European Union (EU), Remainer MPs may now openly rebel against Theresa May’s government.
“It is disappointing that the House of Lords has chosen to make further changes to a bill that the Commons passed without amendment,” commented David Davis, the secretary of state for exiting the EU. “It has a straightforward purpose – to enact the referendum result and allow the government to get on with negotiating a new partnership with the EU.
“It is clear that some in the Lords would seek to frustrate that process, and it is the government’s intention to ensure that does not happen. We will now aim to overturn these amendments in the House of Commons.”
Remainer MPs within the Conservative Party have appeared poised to derail the Article 50 process throughout the bill’s progress through parliament, and may now seize the opportunity the Lords have handed to them by supporting an amendment which would guarantee parliament a “meaningful” vote over Britain’s final deal.
This group includes Anna Soubry, a former minister and leading figure in the continuity Remain campaign, Open Britain. The group hosted Tony Blair when he called for diehard Remainers to “rise up” against Brexit.
Commenting on the possible rebellion, Soubry said: “I just want people to be true to their consciences and true to our long-cherished belief in and defence of parliamentary sovereignty.”
She has not previously opposed the Article 50 bill, but hinted she may now support the Lords’ wrecking amendment: “We run the real risk that in the event of no deal we will have a hard Brexit, which my constituents did not vote for. It is appalling that parliament will deliberately be excluded from determining our country’s future in the event of no deal.”
— People's Vote HQ (@peoplesvote_hq) March 7, 2017
However, fellow Remain campaigner Gina Miller, who also claimed to have been motivated by respect for parliamentary sovereignty in the past, now claims “MPs are too weak” to oppose Brexit.
“In the face of no opposition, whoever feels the need to be the voice of reason needs to speak up now,” she said. Miller launched the Campaign2018 group which admits its aim is to keep the option of remaining in the EU on the table.