Tories must not use Westminster tactics to prevent proper vote on Brexit deal

The SNP’s Westminster Group Leader Ian Blackford has joined with other opposition party leaders to demand that UK government allow for real and unimpeded votes on the final Brexit deal. Including on opposition amendments.

The suggestion that Tory government ministers might limit the voting process is not only unacceptable, but is an affront to the democratic principles Parliament is expected to uphold.

SNP MPs will continue to lead the way, working with other opposition parties, in ensuring that there is an opportunity to debate amendments and vote on them as part of the Brexit deal. There can be no shady shenanigans allowed from the Tories on this. Read the full letter for the opposition party leaders below.


Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you with regard to an issue of the utmost importance: that is to ensure that Parliament has a truly meaningful vote on any Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Recent interventions from Government ministers have suggested that you and your government may seek to limit or constrain the process on the final vote, in an attempt to muzzle Parliament. We want to be clear that this would be wholly unacceptable.

In particular, paragraph 6 of the Government’s memorandum on the issue stated that:

‘amendments could have the effect – whether deliberately or accidentally – of inhibiting the Government’s legal ability to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement’

We believe that Parliament should be able to consider, debate and vote on amendments before a decisive vote on the substantive motion. That would give this sovereign parliament an opportunity to express its view over the terms of departure from the EU. It is unthinkable that Parliament could be silenced at such a crucial period for the country.

We recognise that it will be necessary for a business motion to be agreed by the House to govern arrangements for consideration of this motion. But the existing procedures, which include limiting debate to 90 minutes, are not appropriate. So a much more extensive business motion will be needed for this crucial issue.

As a minimum, any motion to this House must include: the possibility for multiple amendments to be tabled, with the Speaker able to select multiple amendments to be taken before the main motion. While we recognise Parliament will have to approve or disapprove any agreement, it would be reckless to present this vote as take-it-or-leave-it without Parliament being able to suggest an alternative.

We as party leaders have championed parliamentary scrutiny and engagement throughout this process, and throughout the debate we have had repeated assurances from across the dispatch box that MPs would be able to express their support for alternative options. Now it seems the Government has abandoned its willingness to let Parliament take back control and seems determined to limit the role of this sovereign parliament.

We believe Parliament must be allowed to express its view and hold the executive to account. This would not be possible if Parliament was unable to table, debate and consider amendments before any decision on the substantive motion.


Signature of Ian Blackford MP

Ian Blackford MP, Leader of the SNP Westminster Group


Signature of Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party


Signature of Vince Cable

Vince Cable MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats


Liz Saville Roberts, Leader of the Plaid Cymru Westminster Group