MPs have voted in favour of key legislation on Brexit – but tempers frayed in the Commons today.
The house voted through this stage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which seeks to transfer European law into British law.
But there was controversy over the fact the government wanted to include an exit date saying we would definitely leave the EU at 11pm on March 29, 2019.
Although it was debated today, this part won’t be voted upon until next month at the earliest – and Tory backbenchers joined the criticism of it.
Former chancellor Ken Clarke labelled the proposal ‘ridiculous and unnecessary’, adding: ‘It could be positively harmful to the national interest.’
Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve told MPs that no amount of ‘arm twisting’ would make him vote for the amendment.
He said: ‘Everyone has got more and more brittle, more and more unwilling to listen, more and more persuaded that every suggestion that’s been made is in some way a form of treason, finally culminating, I have to say with the deepest regret, last Friday with a mad amendment.
‘Tabled I believe without any collective decision-making within Government at all and accompanied by, I think, blood curdling threats that anybody that might stand in its way was in some way betraying the country’s destiny and mission, and I am afraid I am just not prepared to go along with that.’
Pro-Brexit MP Bernard Jenkin said anyone who wouldn’t vote in favour of the fixed exit date ‘are open to the charge that they don’t want us to leave the European Union.’
Tory former minister Anna Soubry could be heard saying: ‘You disgrace, Bernard. You’re a disgrace.’
Mr Jenkin added: ‘What this amendment does is rumble those who have not really accepted that we’re leaving the European Union.’
MPs later voted by 318 votes to 68, majority 250, that clause one – to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 – would be included in the Bill.