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David Davis: No White Paper before MPs vote on Article 50

David Davis has told MPs that there will be no White Paper before a vote in Parliament on Article 50. And that the government would introduce a bill “within days.”


Following the Supreme Court’s verdict this morning, Brexit secretary David Davis has made a statement to MPs. He said that the government will introduce an Article 50 bill within days. However, he said that it would not be producing a White Paper. This is despite numerous requests from MPs for one. So much so, he said he was “getting boring” on it.

No White Paper but there will be “many, many, many votes”

He did, however, say that Parliament will have “many, many, many votes” during the Brexit process. Even if that is the case, it is hard to see what those “many, many, many votes” might achieve. The government has already ruled out a referendum on the terms (a “ratification referendum”). Davis reiterated this again today.

In Theresa May’s speech (which Davis said is effectively the government’s Brexit plan), she ruled out retaining membership of the single market. She also said that Britain would walk away with “no deal” rather than a “bad deal”. And Davis clarified in Parliament that whilst MPs and peers would get a vote on the final deal, a vote to remain in the EU would not be an option.

So it’s hard to see what these “many, many, many votes” could involve given there have already been so many key options ruled out. At the moment, as well as voting on an Article 50 bill to kick negotiations off, the “many, many, many votes” will lead to a vote between a “bad deal” and “no deal”.

This is why the first of these many votes is so important. And why MPs will need to consider carefully the amendments they make. As to the vote on a final deal, it can only truly be meaningful if there is an option to remain in the EU. It will only be at that stage that we’ll actually know what Brexit means anyway. For this, we’ll have our fingers and toes crossed for another Brexit court case: the one being brought by the barrister Jolyon Maugham on whether Article 50 is revokable. If it is, the question of whether a vote to do just that should be brought up again and considered seriously.

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