The British parliament on Wednesday voted in favor of an amendment that gives the legislative body the power to approve or reject any Brexit deal made by the government in a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s power.
With a group of May’s Conservative lawmakers rebelling against her Brexit vision, parliament voted 309 to 305 in favor of amending the government’s EU Bill, a move which observers believe will undermine the government’s ability to negotiate a deal.
The Labour Party supported the amendment to the bill, with shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer saying: “The terms of our future are not for the government alone to determine.”
May’s attempts to satisfy lawmakers
May earlier Wednesday told parliament that a final agreement on the UK’s divorce from the EU will be put to a vote in “both houses of parliament before it comes into force.”
“We expect the U.K. parliament to vote ahead of the European parliament so we fully expect parliament to vote well before March 2019,” May said.
“After we leave, the withdrawal agreement will be followed up by one or more agreements covering different aspects of the future relationship and we will introduce further legislation where it is needed to implement this into UK law, providing yet another opportunity for proper parliamentary scrutiny.”
EU parliament backs deal
Members of the European Parliament voted on Wednesday to start the next round of Brexit negotiations based on last week’s preliminary agreement. The EU warned, however, that the U.K. must “fully and faithfully” turn the deal into a concrete exit treaty.
The vote was carried by a wide margin of 556 votes to 62. The resolution included a biting critique for Britain’s Brexit Minister David Davis, saying some of his recent inflammatory remarks “risk undermining” the entire process.
Over the weekend, Davis told the BBC that last week’s agreement was merely a “statement of intent,” that was not “legally enforceable,” prompting considerable ire from Brussels. Davis also said his government would not pay its €40 billion to €45 billion ($47 billion to $52 billion) divorce bill if Britain failed to gain what it wanted from a new trade deal.
The EU immediately warned the U.K. about backtracking on its promises, as it could affect future relations between Britain and the other 27 members of the bloc.
“While I am optimistic as far as the second phase is concerned, we have to ensure that the joint report presented last week is fully and faithfully translated into the wording of the exit treaty,” EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani said after Wednesday’s vote.
“No discussions on future relations will take place if the principles contained are not implemented.”
Britain’s parliament is set to vote on moving to the next round of talks later on Wednesday.