Brexit deal will need clear approval by UK parliament - Raab

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the EU Dominic Raab leaves 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s parliament must provide unequivocal approval for any Brexit deal the government reaches with the European Union, or risk creating uncertainty for businesses and citizens, Brexit minister Dominic Raab said.

His comments referred to the vote on whatever divorce deal Prime Minister Theresa May is able to reach with the EU in the coming weeks. The vote is likely to become a flashpoint for divisions within May’s Conservative party, and it is not clear she has enough support to win it under her current plan.

“Once the deal is presented to parliament, the procedure through which it is voted upon must allow for an unequivocal decision, and one which is clear to the British public,” Raab said in a letter on Wednesday to the parliamentary Procedure Committee that will advise on how to carry out the so-called meaningful vote.

“Anything other than a straightforward approval of the deal will bring with it huge uncertainty for business, consumers and citizens,” Raab added.

The government needs to win the vote in order to ratify any agreement but opponents are likely to try to amend the wording of the motion to make parliament’s approval subject to extra conditions, such as a second Brexit referendum.

In a memorandum attached to the letter, the government set out concerns that if any such amendments were passed, they would block the ratification process.

But Keir Starmer, the Brexit spokesman for the opposition Labour party, said that lawmakers should be able to scrutinise and amend any government proposal. “Labour doesn’t accept that the choice facing parliament will be between whatever deal Theresa May cobbles together or no deal,” he said in a statement.

“That is not a meaningful vote and ministers can’t be allowed to silence Parliament.”

Reporting by William James and Alistair Smout; editing by Mark Heinrcih