Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

PM May faces another day of Brexit compromise in parliament

Dr Phillip Lee Dr Phillip Lee
Patty Aguilar | 14 June, 2018, 21:32

Asked by an opposition deputy if it would be possible for the European Union to extend the March 31, 2019 deadline for Britain to leave, Varadkar said it would be possible with the unanimous agreement of the remaining 27 EU members.

The Prime Minister has sought to reassure Brexit supporters that the concessions do not amount to handing the Remainer-dominated Parliament an effective veto over the Brexit deal - or Brexit itself. The difference in this particular case is the enormity of the issue in the context of Brexit and in a climate of suspicion and hostility from many on the Conservative backbenches towards their leader.

Earlier May suffered a setback when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of Brexit strategy, resigned and said he would vote against the government.

As the EU Withdrawal Bill returned to the Commons on Tuesday, Mrs May's team scrambled together a last-ditch offer to win over rebels threatening to vote down the Government on the issue of giving Parliament a "meaningful vote" on the final Brexit deal.

Some of the pro-EU rebels said they had been assured by May that elements proposed by Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve would be brought into the European Union withdrawal bill, which will sever ties with the bloc and "copy and paste" its laws.

"The main reason for my taking this decision now is the Brexit process and the government's wish to limit parliament's role in contributing to the final outcome in a vote that takes place today", he said in a statement released on his website.

"We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the Government's hands in the negotiations".

Yet over the course of a few days, the Prime Minister has, apparently, turned things around.

Those votes also show that Parliament is aware of the government's weakness and wishes to take control of the negotiations with the European Union and possibly take a softer line on Brexit than the one May's government is now pursuing.

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At the same time, Ireland dismissed any idea that it might "fill Britain's role" in the European Union after Britain leaves.

But it was in the Labour Party where the deepest rifts were exposed.

It seems that May will survive as Prime Minister - for now at least.

But pro-EU Tories are warning that they remain ready to rebel if their demands are not satisfied by the compromise amendment, expected to be tabled on Thursday ahead of the bill's return to the Lords on Monday.

A year after that election, it is, perhaps, her sheer longevity in office, the simple fact that she has clung on to power despite all the challenges, that has made her stronger.

On Tuesday the battle for control came to a head, as lawmakers geared up to vote on whether to provide a "meaningful vote" to Parliament, something that could pave the way for a second referendum.

The government has refused to accept a Northern Ireland-specific arrangement. And while May has managed to assert some authority inside her government and party, she remains weak in Brussels.

The government's suggestion to avoid a physical border is that the United Kingdom temporarily aligns with the EU's customs union.

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