British Prime Minister Theresa May (file photo)
British Prime Minister Theresa May is poised to make an unprecedented attempt to overhaul the parliamentary system to gain sweeping powers as the country prepares to leave the European Union, according to a report.
The House of Commons will stage a late-night Commons vote next week to give the Conservatives authority to use so-called “Henry VIII powers,” which would allow them to make new laws behind the backs of MPs, The Independent reports.
The move, which has been disguised as being part of “motions relating to House business,” would be a decisive act in the Brexit process. It will allow the Conservatives to fill the Committee of Selection with their own MPs in order to carry out the power grab.
To win the vote, the Conservatives will need the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), under the controversial “cash-for-votes” deal that secured May’s premiership following a humiliating snap election in June.
Opposition parties immediately accused the prime minister of trying to “sideline Parliament and grant ministers unprecedented powers.”
“This is an unprecedented power grab by a minority government that lost its moral authority as well as its majority at the general election,” Labour’s Shadow Commons Leader Valerie Vaz told The Independent.
Parliamentary officials have strongly advised the Conservatives against the move.
Without the new change, it would be impossible to force through up to 1,000 “corrections” to EU laws as intended through the Brexit bill.
At stake are protections for British workers and consumers, environmental standards and whether powers will be devolved across the UK.
Former Tory ministers have joined Labour and other opposition parties to protest that the Brexit legislation will grant ministers unprecedented powers.
To exploit that power grab, May’s government needs to take control of the Commons committee, which will now be decided in next Tuesday’s vote.
“They will try to sideline opposition in Parliament by rigging the committee system so that they are guaranteed a majority they didn't secure at the ballot box,” Vaz said.
“The British people will not understand how having voted to deny the Conservatives a majority, the Tories can alter the rules of Parliament to ensure they have one.”
The latest controversy comes as PMs have begun debating legislation to end Britain's membership in the EU.
The government says the bill, designed to disentangle Britain from more than 40 years of EU lawmaking, is the first step in implementing last year’s EU referendum to leave the 28-member bloc.

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