May panicking over rebellion ahead of Brexit bill debates

PUBLISHED: 09:23 03 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:54 03 September 2017

Theresa May is trying to stop a Tory rebellion

Theresa May is trying to stop a Tory rebellion

PA Wire/PA Images

The Government is desperately attempting to halt a rebellion which could derail the repeal bill.

Theresa May has claimed rebels risk putting Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10 if they back Labour’s attempts to influence the bill – officially called the European Union Withdrawal Bill.

The bill faces the first round of parliamentary scrutiny on Thursday as MPs return to Westminster following the summer recess.

Pro-EU Tories have warned the aggressive whipping operation could backfire and damage May’s already weakened leadership. It could take only seven to vote against the Government, although it is more likely around 20 would be required for them to be defeated

May said: “Since Parliament broke for summer the Government has been working hard to deliver a successful Brexit.

“The series of papers we are publishing have provided further detail on the deep and special partnership we want, we’ve had frank negotiations with the Commission, and we’ve travelled the globe to establish the trading relationships of the future.

“Now it is time for Parliament to play its part. The Repeal Bill delivers the result of the referendum by ending the direct role of the EU in UK law, but it is also the single most important step we can take to prevent a cliff-edge for people and businesses, because it transfers laws and provides legal continuity.

“We have made time for proper Parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit legislation and welcome the contributions of MPs from across the House.

“But for us to grasp the great prize ahead of us, that contribution must fit with our shared aim: to help Britain make a success of Brexit and become that great global country we know we can be.”

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph First Secretary of State Damian Green also warned Tory rank and file not to turn on the Government: “No Conservative wants a bad Brexit deal, or to do anything that increases the threat of a Corbyn government.”

But outspoken pro-Remain former minister Anna Soubry responded angrily to attempts to try to stop Tory MPs tabling or supporting amendments to the legislation, telling the Observer: “Any suggestion that this is in any way treacherous or supporting Jeremy Corbyn is outrageous.

“It amounts to a trouncing of democracy and people will not accept it.”

She added: “People will be very alarmed. It will all backfire on them.”

In another sign of the difficulties May could face a senior Tory warned against plans in the Brexit Bill for “Henry VIII” powers to change laws without full parliamentary scrutiny.

Former constitution minister John Penrose said there was a “delicate balance” to be struck between the flexibility required to cope with Brexit and the “fundamental” role of Parliament in scrutinising the changes.

He said: “The current draft of the Repeal Bill gives lots of power to ministers so we can deliver Brexit - which is essential - but it cuts Parliament’s role right down.

“Ministers have already said they don’t want this Bill to be a ‘power grab’, so I’m sure they will listen and bring forward their own changes as the Bill goes through Parliament.”

Appearing on The Marr Show Brexit Secretary David Davis accused Brussels and its chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier of having a “silly” approach to the talks on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

He claimed the EU was trying to put pressure on the UK over the demands for a divorce fee, the subject of a bitter row during the latest round of talks.

He said: “They have set this up to try to create pressure on us, on money ... that’s what it’s about, they are trying to play time against money.”

He added that chief EU Brexit negotiator Barnier “wants to put pressure on us, which is why the stance this week in the press conference - bluntly, I think it looked a bit silly because there plainly were things that we had achieved”.

Barnier hit out at Britain’s Brexit team last week complaining of a lack of progress.

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