Analysis

Tory mutineers will be heroes if they stand their ground

by Hugo Dixon | 12.06.2018

Today is probably the most important day in the Brexit process since Theresa May triggered Article 50. MPs have the chance to get a meaningful vote at the end of the talks. They must not fluff it.

The prime minister is trying to neuter a House of Lords amendment ensuring such a vote. She says it would undermine her negotiating position if she needs MPs’ approval to crash out of the EU without a deal.

This is hogwash. It would be madness to trigger what the government itself says could be “Armageddon” without Parliament’s support. Taking such a grave decision merely on the basis of the Cabinet’s approval would be an affront to democracy.

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Dominic Grieve, the Tory MP, last night proposed a new version of the meaningful vote amendment. This seeks to modify the government’s wrecking amendment and make the vote meaningful again.

In particular, it ensures MPs can take control of the process if there is no deal by February 15 next year – six weeks before Brexit day. It also says that, if the prime minister does a deal and Parliament rejects it, she has to seek MPs’ approval for what she plans to do next. The government’s wrecking amendment merely says it would have to make a statement about its plans.

The hardline Brexit press is trying to bully Tory MPs into backing May. The Sun has a vast editorial starting on its front page entitled “Great Britain or Great Betrayal”. The Express’ front-page editorial warns: “Ignore the will of the people at your peril”.

True Brits don’t engage in bully-boy tactics. They stand up to bullies. If the Tory mutineers stand their ground today, they will be national heroes.