Theresa May's government narrowly wins key Brexit vote with concessions to lawmakers

Blanche Robertson
June 14, 2018

The meaningful vote is probably the most risky of the Lords amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill - because it tees up an unpredictable vote on the final terms of Brexit, towards the end of this year, and opens up the possibility that MPs could demand that ministers change policy, in the event the terms were rejected by the House, or no deal was reached in the talks with the EU.... they could even demand (drumroll) a second referendum...

On Wednesday, parliament will consider a challenge to May's commitment to leave the EU's single market and customs union, which will transform Britain's future trading relationships for many years to come.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "As has become a tradition in Brexit negotiations, the Tories have been forced to cobble together a compromise".

The government averted a rebellion on Tuesday over whether Parliament should have a decisive say in such a scenario.

Since there is certainly no majority among MPs for no deal - which all but a hard core of Brexit ultras believe would be disastrous - that now makes no deal extremely unlikely.

That came after the embarrassing spectacle of government minister Robert Buckland effectively negotiating with Grieve, through a series of interventions in the rebel backbencher's speech, in what Anna Soubry called "a peculiar sort of horse-trading" - and then literally negotiating with him, in whispered exchanges, as the debate went on around them.

The pro-European cause was boosted when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, a friend of May's, resigned shortly before the debate in order to back the veto amendment.

Having been debated by both the lower house of parliament, the Commons, and the unelected upper house, the Lords, the bill is in its final stages. May warned her MPs: "The message we send to the country through our votes this week is important". According to leader of the "rebel alliance", Dominic Grieve, discussions will take place in the next few days.

"Meanwhile, the economy is weakening and industry is increasingly alarmed at the sheer ineptitude of her Government". As the clock ticked down to the vote, two rebels stood up to say they were satisfied with what the government had offered them.

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"I promised Crewe & Nantwich that I would respect the referendum result".

Labour split three ways as the Commons debated a Lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill calling for EEA membership to remain on the negotiating table. The Brexit Department said in a statement that it would look for compromise, but would not agree to lawmakers "binding the government's hands" in negotiations.

He was a passionate campaigner for Britain to remain the European Union and now is expected to use his freedom to join other Conservative MPs who plan to vote against the government on the meaningful vote amendment.

Labour MPs had been whipped to abstain on the motion to disagree with the Lords EEA amendment.

The fact is that the Tory rebels are still split on tactics, with some preferring to hold off until the Trade Bill next month to push a single market solution.

It also imperils the now invisible border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, May said the government could never allow the hands of the government to be tied in the negotiations or allow the Brexit decision to be reversed.

"The vote rejecting the Lords' amendment does not dispose of the issue".

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