David Davis has urged MPs to back the Brexit bill next week and insisted the UK would be prepared if it has to leave the EU with no deal in place.
The Brexit Secretary urged MPs not to “tie the prime minister’s hands” over the issues of a final vote on the deal and EU citizens’ rights in the UK.
He said while they were preparing for a “no deal” Brexit he thought it was unlikely negotiations would break down.
The Brexit bill returns to MPs on Monday after two defeats in the Lords.
If MPs pass the bill, Theresa May could trigger Article 50 – the formal process of Brexit – as early as Tuesday.
But it suffered two defeats in the House of Lords on the issue of the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and whether Parliament will get a “meaningful vote” on the terms of any Brexit deal following negotiations.
The prime minister has said she will take the UK out of the EU even if MPs reject the deal she is offered.
Mr Davis, who will lead negotiations for the UK, addressed the two issues in an interview on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show. “It’s inconceivable to me that there wouldn’t be a vote on the outcome,” he said.
“But the simple truth is what I don’t want to do is to take a simple bill which is designed to do nothing more than to put the result of the referendum into law… please don’t tie the prime minister’s hands in the process of doing that, for things which we expect to attain anyway.”
But pressed on whether a rejection by Parliament of the deal would send the UK back to the negotiating table, he said: “There is a limited time on this … it’s a two-year time on Article 50 so there’ll be a limit to which we can do that.
“Secondly what we can’t have is either House of Parliament reversing the decision of the British people – they haven’t got a veto.”
He said citizens’ rights in the UK and Europe would be “the first thing” discussed in Brexit talks and said he believed there was a “moral responsibility” to EU citizens but the issue had to be “resolved together” with other EU countries.
He also said the government was working on “a contingency plan” in case a deal could not be reached with the EU – after a report by the Foreign Affairs Committee said it had found no evidence of serious contingency planning by the government.
The Brexit Secretary told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show he believed it was “not remotely likely” that there would be a complete breakdown in negotiations.
He said: “The simple truth is, we have been planning for the contingency, all the various outcomes, all the possible outcomes. It’s not just my team, it’s the whole of Whitehall, it’s every single department. But, understand, it’s the contingency plan. The aim is to get a good outcome.”
Amendments were made to the EU withdrawal bill last week after they were backed by a majority of peers.
Labour, which claims it is the only party with a “radical vision” for Brexit, has appealed to Mrs May to let the amendments go through.
In a letter sent to the prime minister on Friday, Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, and Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, urged Mrs May to “reflect and reconsider on the overwhelming case to act on these two specific issues as this is the final opportunity to put vital guarantees and protections into legislation”.
The bill could complete its final stages on Monday if the Lords accepts the decisions made by MPs.
But BBC political correspondent Susana Mendonca said Mr Davis was worried a handful of Conservative MPs might rebel, potentially allowing the amendments to stand.
Even if the bill passes the Commons unchanged, it will go back to the Lords, raising the possibility the amendments will be re-imposed, she added.