Government dismisses Lib Dem threat to block Brexit

Lib Dems will amend legislation if Parliament gets a vote on Article 50
Lib Dems will amend legislation if Parliament gets a vote on Article 50
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The Government has hit back at suggestions that MPs could block Brexit unless the public is given a say on the final deal.

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron revealed this morning that a second referendum would be a "red line" for his party if given a vote on Article 50.

But Brexit minister David Jones has dismissed the threat, accusing Mr Farron of "attempting to reverse" the decision taken on June 23.

He stressed that the Government respects the decision to leave the EU and is committed to "making a success" of it.

"Parliament voted by a margin of six to one to put the decision on whether to remain in or leave the EU in the hands of the British people," said Mr Jones.

"Now, because they didn't like the first answer, Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs seek to put the question all over again in hope of a different answer.

"They are attempting to thwart and reverse the decision that was taken on June 23.

"Only the Conservatives can be trusted to respect the outcome of the referendum and make a success of Brexit."

The Lib Dems have been calling for a second referendum on the result of Brexit negotiations for several months.

The party claims that while people voted on "departure" from the European Union, they did not get a say on what the UK's future relationship with the institution should be.

Following the recent High Court ruling that Parliament should vote on triggering Article 50, there has been much speculation about whether any MPs would choose to block it.

Mr Farron revealed this morning that his party would, unless the Government offers the people another vote.

"Millions of people are deeply worried by the Government's handling of Brexit," he said.

"So my position is very clear: the Liberal Democrats believe the people are sovereign.

"They must decide whether or not they agree with the deal the Government reaches with Brussels, which means a referendum at the end of negotiations.

"We will vote against Article 50 unless it allows people a vote on the deal, because the will of the people must prevail."

MPs from other parties - including a Labour frontbencher - have indicated they would be prepared to oppose Article 50.

Shadow Foreign Office minister Catherine West wrote on Twitter earlier in November that she would respect the wishes of her constituents, who voted to Remain.

"I stand with the people of Hornsey and Wood Green, and I will vote against Brexit in Parliament," she said.

Another Labour MP, Helen Hayes, said she would also be prepared to defy the Labour whip if necessary.

She told BBC's Today programme: "I had somebody in my surgery last week who was in tears because of Brexit and I see genuine distress amongst my constituents about what this path means.

"I would not be representing them if I voted to trigger Article 50 on the basis of no information from the Government about the path that they would then take us on."

The Government will challenge the judges' ruling at the Supreme Court in December, arguing that prerogative powers could be used to trigger Article 50.

An outline of the grounds for appeal published by the Brexit Department said the High Court was mistaken and should have accepted "the Crown retains the power to give effect to the result of the EU referendum" by taking the "first step in the process" by notifying that it is triggering Article 50.

The Government's lawyers will argue that "in any event, the continued existence of the power to take that first step is clearly established and authorised by Parliament".