A move aimed at allowing MPs to seize control of Brexit if Theresa May’s Withdrawal Deal is rejected in the Commons “will not permit Parliament to override the will of the people”, a DUP MP has claimed.
MPs backed a motion tabled by Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve that could put Parliament in the driving seat if the prime minister’s proposed agreement is voted down on December 11.
It gives the Commons the power to amend a motion that Mrs May would be required to make within the following 21 days to set out the government’s next steps.
There are claims this could open the door for the Commons to throw its weight behind a Norway-style soft Brexit or even a second EU referendum, though Leave-backing MPs questioned whether such vote would be binding on ministers.
The DUP, along with a number of Tory MPs, voted against the ex-attorney general’s amendment, which passed by 321 votes to 299.
DUP MP Jim Shannon said: “We voted against this primarily on the grounds that it had the potential to move away from the power of the people and could give the Remainers some authority to change things.
“I am not sure it will give them the authority to do that. I am quite assured that the position that we will leave on March 29 is statute and cannot be changed. Parliament can’t overturn the referendum result and the will of the people.
“There is talk by some Remainers who want to see that happen, and I am conscious there is a group of Tory MPs who voted for the amendment who have that outcome in mind.
“We in the DUP still think that cannot happen legally, but Dominic Grieve may have a different interpretation.”
The Strangford MP said that, despite intense lobbying by Tory whips desperate to convince rebel MPs to toe the government’s line, he believed it was “highly unlikely” that Mrs May’s deal would clear the Commons.
He added: “Westminster is a cauldron of conspiracy at present, as the Government attempts to persuade or coerce MPs to change their opinion.
“I think if you wanted a job at some level in government here, you would nearly get a promise to that effect in exchange for your support of the agreement.
“However, I do not get the sense that many of those MPs have changed their minds, so I don’t expect the PM is going to get the numbers she needs.”
Mr Shannon said he could not comprehend why the PM insisted on “pursuing a course of action that appears doomed to fail”.
He added: “I cant understand the logic of it. Perhaps it so that the PM can then go back to the EU and say ‘I have done all I can to try and get this through and I cant get it done, so you will have to do better’.”
Stating that it still possible for the government to secure a better deal, Mr Shannon concluded: “We need someone to push the panic button in Brussels and make them understand what is going to happen if we don’t get an agreement.”