Opponents of a no-deal exit are concerned that Theresa May’s successor as prime minister could seek to take the UK out of the EU without parliamentary approval.
Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson and several of his rivals have said the UK must leave the EU by the revised date, whether a deal is passed or not.
Tuesday’s motion – supported by the Lib Dems, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, as well as some Conservatives, would not, by itself, have ruled out a no deal.
However, its supporters hoped to start a process on 25 June which could culminate with Parliament blocking the UK leaving without an agreement – in effect, tying the next prime minister’s hands.
Backing the motion, Conservative ex-minister Sir Oliver Letwin said the case for ensuring Parliament had a “decisive vote” on the next PM’s Brexit plan ahead of the 31 October deadline transcended party politics.
With Parliament not due to sit for most of August or September, due to the six-week summer holidays and four-week party conference season, he said time was limited and it was critical MPs acted now.
“Although it isn’t a fast-burning fuse, it is a bomb the fuse of which is already burning. If we don’t put the fuse out now, we won’t be able to disassemble the bomb in September or October.”
But veteran eurosceptic, Conservative Sir Bill Cash said it was a “phantom motion” which paved the way for “government by Parliament”.
“It just simply opens the door for any bill of any kind to take precedence over government business,” he told by MPs. “It is inconceivable as a matter of constitutional convention.”
This is not the first time that MPs have attempted seized control of the Commons order paper in order to shift government policy on Brexit.
MPs voted in March to oblige Mrs May to seek a Brexit delay from the EU.
But efforts by Sir Oliver and others to come up with an alternative Brexit plan failed in April after MPs rejected all the options in a series of indicative votes.