WATCH: Government warned against 'parliamentary trickery' to stop Brexit vote
PUBLISHED: 14:25 11 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:26 11 December 2018
Senior MPs have raised concern that the government could use parliamentary "trickery" to keep the Commons in Brexit "limbo".
Labour former minister Yvette Cooper has called for urgent assurance that ministers will not try to use "loopholes" to stop MPs having a say if the UK does not reach a deal with the EU.
Cooper was prompted to make the comments after the government pulled the meaningful vote on Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.
Brexit Minister Robin Walker told MPs that "in keeping with the clear intention of the EU Withdrawal Act" the government would ensure that the question of whether to accept an agreement was put before the Commons before January 21.
Cooper said: "None of us know whether the prime minister is going to pull the vote again or whether she is even going to table a vote on the deal again, so, if we get to 21 January and there is no deal, the agreement to Parliament was that the government should make a statement and Parliament should be able to vote on it.
"The minister said that if in the unlikely event there is no deal that would happen; however we need urgent assurance from the attorney general that the government will not find a loophole in this."
"By never quite getting round to offering a vote on this deal 'til it is too late, but also not having a vote on no deal, keeping us in limbo - no vote on the deal and no vote on no deal. If the government were to do this it would be a constitutional outrage."
Walker reiterated that the government would bring a vote, adding: "Let us not allow some of the conspiracy theories and the scare stories that have been told about this to run away."
Tory former education secretary Nicky Morgan later warned the government not to use "trickery" to stop Parliament voting on the prime minister's Brexit deal.
Morgan, who chairs the Commons Treasury Committee, said: "It is unquestionable that this Parliament must have a say, a meaningful vote on the deal or no deal that comes about.
"Can the minister give categorical assurance that there will be no trickery by the government to stop Parliament having a say?"
Walker responded: "I'm very happy to give that categorical assurance. We will be putting before Parliament a motion even in the circumstances where no deal was before the House but I strongly believe and expect that there will be a deal before this House which I will be urging Parliament to support."
Shadow solicitor general Nick Thomas-Symonds said Walker's assurances "meant nothing" without the legal backing of the attorney general.