Sunday, 24 June, 2018

United Kingdom government avoids Brexit defeat with promise to Tory rebels

Patty Aguilar | 13 June, 2018, 02:45

The government won the vote after last-minute horse-trading, some of it in the open on the floor of the House of Commons - some behind closed doors.

The new amendment, proposed by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, will now be considered when the bill returns to the House of Lords, with government whips indicating to the rebels that they will accept the bulk of the amendment. "I'm fairly confident we will be able to do that".

In a painful blow the the PM, Remain-supporting MP Philip Lee quit as justice minister this morning, saying he could not support "how our country's exit from the European Union looks set to be delivered".

"In all conscience, I can not support the Government's decision to oppose this amendment because doing so breaches such fundamental principles of human rights and Parliamentary sovereignty". But there is going to be no binary choice of the deal on the table or no deal, with Parliament bypassed.

Rebels had been pushing for an amendment that would have given Parliament unprecedented powers over the final stages of Brexit talks.

"This justifies my decision to resign and makes it a lot less painful".

Although their compromise offer bought off other potential Tory rebels, the government later issued a series of red lines they would not cross in trying to appease backbenchers.

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3 - If there is no agreement by February 15, 2019, the government have to bring the matter to the Commons within five days.

Also on Tuesday, the government successfully overturned an attempt to remove the date of Brexit from the face of the bill. Brexit-backers objected as it would have all but removed the no-deal nuclear option from negotiators' arsenal.

In a day of drama at Westminster, ministers caved into the rebel demands for a "meaningful vote" on Brexit in order to prevent a defeat on the EU Withdrawal bill which could have triggered a leadership crisis for the prime minister.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer commented: "This vote was about ensuring parliament was given a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no deal situation, which is becoming more likely with the divisions at the heart of this government".

They have an ace up their sleeve as they go into talks with the government: if May reneges on her pledge, pro-EU members of the House of Lords will amend her legislation again.

"I've been through this before when in opposition and now that when we're in Government, because if the House makes the concession of allowing the dialogue to continue and I can see the merit of that happening, it has got to be done in good faith".

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill would formally end Britain's membership of the bloc and transfer more than 40 years of European law onto the British statute books.

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