Take it or leave it Brexit vote... but we quit whatever, says Davis
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MPs will get the chance to vote down Brexit in parliament – but we will leave the EU whatever the result, David Davis has said.
In what will be seen as a concession to Tory rebels Brexit Secretary Davis told the House of Commons a new piece of legislation will be introduced to run alongside the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
The new bill – the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill – which MPs will be able to amend, will cover areas such as citizens' rights, the so-called divorce bill and a transition period.
But, to audible gasps in the chamber, Davis confirmed that if MPs did not like the deal and voted against it Britain would still crash out of the European Union.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the climbdown but warned 'the devil is in the detail'.
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'This is a significant climbdown from a weak Government on the verge of defeat,' he said. 'For months, Labour has been calling on ministers to guarantee Parliament a final say on the withdrawal agreement.
'With less than 24 hours before they had to defend their flawed Bill to Parliament, they have finally backed down. However, like everything with this Government, the devil will be in the detail.
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'Ministers must now go further. They need to accept Labour's amendments that would ensure transitional arrangements, and protect jobs and the economy from a cliff edge.'
Davis confirmed in an answer to Tory former cabinet minister Owen Paterson that Britain will leave the EU on March 29 2019 with no deal if MPs vote down the new piece of legislation.
The announcement came just days after the Prime Minister announced the Government would attempt to enshrine in law the date Britain must leave the EU.
The Brexit Secretary added: 'I can now confirm that once we have reached an agreement we will bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement the agreement.'
But the announcement did not go down well with some of the Tories believed to have been plotting to rebel. Antoinette Sandbach said 'the announcement is meaningless if for any reason the timetable slips beyond March 2019' while Heidi Allen tweeted 'pointless if we have enshrined a drop dead date in the Bill'.