Brexit is ‘under attack’ and peers must not re-write the Article 50 Bill to tie Theresa May’s hands, ex-chancellor Norman Lamont warns 


  • Lords’ rebels plan to defeat the Government on a ‘meaningful vote’ tomorrow
  • Labour and some Tory MPs hope to sustain the amendment in the Commons 
  • Defeat would mean May could not quit the talks in Brussels without a vote
  • Warning from No 10 came as sensitive papers on the final deal were pictured 

Former chancellor Norman Lamont today claimed Brexit is ‘under attack’ on several fronts as he demanded peers drop plans to defeat ministers over the Article 50 Bill.

Theresa May is braced for defeat on a cross party amendment in the Lords that would require her to get consent from Parliament on the terms of her deal or to walk away from a bad one.

No 10 today warned the amendment would only ‘incentivise’ the EU to offer a bad deal if they felt Mrs May was unable to quit the talks.

Lord Lamont used a speech today to demand his colleagues in the Lords ‘see sense’.   

He warned adding conditions to the Bill is ‘not the same as scrutiny’ and warned ‘common sense must prevail’.

‘Amendments should not be used as a cover by those who are seeking to oppose the results of the referendum,’ he said.

‘I hope that my colleagues in the House of Lords will see sense and I look forward to Article 50 being triggered as soon as possible,’ he said.

He added: ‘The result was clear, the question was simple and unambiguous and yet Brexit is under attack on several fronts.

‘Some say maybe in the future the British people will change their minds.

‘By that they mean they would like to change their minds for them.’ 

No 10 issued the warning as ‘official – sensitive’ papers on implementing the final deal were photographed in Downing Street. 

Mrs May has insisted no deal is better than a bad deal and believes a threat to quit the EU without agreeing free trade is essential to getting the best future arrangements.

The Government is braced for defeat on the amendment in the House of Lords tomorrow night but hopes to overturn the amendment in the Commons a week later.

Rebel Tory MPs hope to join forces with the Opposition to defend the amendment in what would be a humiliating defeat for Mrs May on the eve of the Brexit talks starting.

Mrs May’s spokesman said: ‘We have been clear on a number of occasions the PM wants to see the Bill passed unamended. It’s a Bill with a simple purpose which is giving the Government power trigger Article 50.

‘The PM believes we should not commit to any process that would incentivise the EU to offer us a bad deal.’

He added: ‘If we are in a position where anything negotiated by the PM could be rejected by MPs then obviously that gives strength to the other parties in this negotiation.

‘Our view has been this should be a simple in relation to Article 50 power.’

Mrs May continues to believe no deal – which would see Britain crashing out of the EU on World Trade Organisation rules – is better than a bad deal.

MPs will get a vote on the final deal but will only be asked to accept or reject it. They will not have the power to send Mrs May back to the negotiating table.

Rebel peers and MPs believe the right to send Mrs May back to Brussels is crucial to the negotiating process.

A memo to Brexit Secretary David Davis photographed in Downing Street today gave a glimpse at how the Government plans to implement the final deal.

The document, marked ‘official – sensitive’, suggests Mr Davis plans to take powers to implement the deal as part of the Great Repeal Bill.

This is a huge piece of legislation intended to transfer existing EU law into British law to smooth the transition out of EU membership.

But it is intended to be law before the final deal is struck which means MPs will be asked to give Mr Davis power over implementation of a deal they have not seen.

The memo says ‘important changes’ should be implemented via a separate new law once the agreement is struck.

It also indicates Mr Davis has queried with officials whether there ‘needed to be a legal distinction between the withdrawal and new relationship agreement’.

A hand-written note makes reference to Lord Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland – Mrs May’s top adviser on Scottish law.

It makes further reference to ‘Article 45’, which could mean EU free movement rules. 

The exposure of the memo is embarrassing to ministers and is the latest example of the Brexit plans being accidentally shown off.  

A scribbled memo revealing the UK wanted to ‘have cake and eat it’ was revealed in November, causing acute embarrassment to senior Tory MP Mark Field. 

March 6th, 2017: Daily Mail