The Brexit Secretary has moved to clarify his position after suggesting Parliament may not be able to vote on the deal until after Britain has left the bloc during questioning by the Commons Brexit Committee.
He told the Committee an agreement on future relations between the UK and EU may not be completed until the “last moment” before Brexit in March 2019, meaning MPs may not be given the change to approve or reject the terms of agreement until after Brexit.
When asked by the Commons Brexit Committee when parliament would be able to vote on the deal, Mr Davis said: “as soon as possible thereafter”.
He said: “It’s no secret that the way the EU makes its decisions tends to be at the 59th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day and so on. That’s precisely what I expect to happen here.
“If there is a time limit on a negotiation. The [European] Union stops the clock. It assumes it’s still at 11.59 until it’s concluded, sometimes over the course of 24, 36, 72 hours thereafter.
“It will be a lot of pressure. It will be very high stress. Very exciting for everyone watching.”
Now, after strong criticism from some Remain-backing MPs, the Brexit Secretary has released a statement confirming MPs will get to vote on the deal before Britain’s official exit.
In a statement, he said: “We are working to reach an agreement on the final deal in good time before we leave the EU in March 2019.
“Once the deal is agreed we will meet our long-standing commitment to a vote in both houses and we expect and intend this to be before the vote in the European Parliament and therefore before we leave.
“This morning the secretary of state was asked about hypothetical scenarios. Michel Barnier has said he hopes to get the deal agreed by October 2018 and that is our aim as well.”
After this morning’s Committee meeting, Labour MP Chukka Umunna tweeted: “David Davis has just said Parlt may not vote on the final Brexit deal until AFTER we’ve left. Totally unacceptable.”
Lib Dem MP Tom Brake added: “David Davis doesn’t even want to give Parliament a meaningful vote on Brexit deal! Insult to democracy, we need a real vote on the facts.”
And during PMQs, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock spoke about Article 50 and said a vote was promised but he is now being told it may not take place until after March 2019.
Mrs May responded: “As he knows we’re in negotiations but I’m confident the timetable gives time for negotiations to take place. It’s not just this parliament that wants a vote but others as well and we will have time for a vote.”