Lord Heseltine, the Conservative party’s former deputy prime minister, has been sacked from his role as a government adviser by Prime Minister Theresa May after rebelling over Brexit in the House of Lords.
The upper chamber yesterday voted to give parliament the right to reject the final outcome of the government’s EU negotiations.
Peers backed an amendment to the Brexit bill by 366 votes to 268, which would require the final terms to be put to separate votes in both the Commons and the Lords.
Heseltine, a prominent figure in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, said it was “entirely right” for the Prime Minister to sack him for backing the amendment, adding: “I’m sorry that the expertise which I have put at the government’s disposal over the last six years has now come to an end.”
The issue will now return to the Commons, despite MPs having “already rejected calls for the ‘meaningful vote’ clause to be included in the legislation”, the BBC says. Brexit Secretary David Davis said the government will seek to throw out the amendment as well as a previous one guaranteeing rights to EU citizens living in the UK.
Downing Street argued that “giving parliament a blanket right of veto was against the national interest and would weaken May’s negotiating hand”.
However, May faces a “fresh battle” with Conservative MPs, says The Guardian, as a group of Tories plan to back the Lords amendment unless they are given verbal assurances that they can vote on the outcome of the her negotiations with Brussels.
“We want to remove any uncertainty about securing a parliamentary vote in a timely manner that covers a deal and no deal,” said Neil Carmichael, a Tory MP pushing for further concessions from the government.
Anna Soubry, another Conservative MP, said: “I just want people to be true to their consciences and true to our long-cherished belief in and defence of parliamentary sovereignty. We run the real risk that in the event of no deal we will have a hard Brexit, which my constituents did not vote for. It is appalling that parliament will deliberately be excluded from determining our country’s future in the event of no deal.”