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Downing Street has warned peers that they could “incentivise” the EU to offer the UK a bad Brexit deal if they insist on parliament having a meaningful vote on the exit package secured by Theresa May.
Number 10 intensified pressure on the upper house ahead of a key vote on Tuesday, claiming Mrs May’s negotiating hand would be weakened if the EU knew that parliament could reject what she had agreed.
Mrs May’s spokesman said that some EU countries might deliberately offer Britain a bad deal “in the hope it stops us leaving”.
“We should not commit to any process that would incentivise the EU to offer us a bad deal,” the spokesman said. He said that if parliament could reject the deal that would “give strength to other parties in the negotiation”.
Peers are expected to vote on Tuesday to amend legislation that will give Mrs May authority to start the Article 50 exit process, insisting that parliament should have “a meaningful vote” on the deal she agrees with the 27 other EU member states.
They want that vote to happen in late 2018 in time for parliament to insist that Mrs May returns to Brussels to seek better terms if the initial deal is deemed unacceptable.
Downing St will try to overturn such an amendment in the Commons. It wants parliament to be given a “take it or leave it deal” at the final stage of the Brexit negotiation, just before a deal goes to the European Parliament.
At that point Mrs May would give MPs the choice between the deal she had agreed or an exit from the EU without a deal, leaving Britain to trade with Europe under the tariff regime of the World Trade Organisation.