Government compromise on 'meaningful vote' avoids Brexit defeat

13 Juin, 2018, 16:40 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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Theresa May has averted an embarrassing defeat over the government's EU Withdrawal Bill by giving MPs a say on the next steps for Brexit if she fails to secure a withdrawal agreement by the end of November. The strained parliament session underlined deep divisions over Britain's European Union exit.

The rebels pulled back from voting against May in Parliament in London on Tuesday but only after she made a dramatic last minute appeal to them to trust her.

Hours before the debate began, a justice minister resigned in protest at what he called its "wish to limit" the role of parliament in shaping Brexit. He said he would vote against the prime minister.

The meaningful vote is probably the most unsafe 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...

Some lawmakers tried to shout him down and accused the government of wanting too much power.

Speaking to reporters outside the meeting, Solicitor General Robert Buckland confirmed the Government was in discussions with rebels about establishing a fresh amendment committing to seek a customs arrangement - not a union - with the EU.

The vote on Tuesday is the first of two days of debate that will test May's authority and her plans for leaving the EU.

The debate, which lasted for almost three hours, was split down the usual non-partisan lines that have emerged as a result of Brexit, with the likes of Labour's Kate Hoey and John Mann saying they would back the Conservative government, while Tories including Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry spoke in favour of Grieve. The U.K. voted to leave the political and economic bloc of 28 nations in June 2016.

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"The prime minister said that the votes were important in terms of the message they send to Brussels", May's spokesman said she told her cabinet team of ministers.

The amendment would effectively give MPs the power to prevent the United Kingdom from opting to crash out of the European Union without a Brexit deal and is a major victory for Remain-supporting MPs in parliament. We had a personal assurance that we would find a way to address the concerns in the House of Lords when the Bill goes back there.

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".

"Thirdly, we must under all circumstances respect the result of the referendum".

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".

Then, "MPs voted to reverse the Lords amendment removing the "exit day" from the bill by 326 votes to 301 - a majority of 25".

They backed Theresa May, as they have to date on most issues, although they have previously indicated that some softer Brexit options would be acceptable as long as they didn't divide Northern Ireland from Britain in any way.

In such an event, he said Parliament should be able to flex its muscles by requiring ministers to come forward with a plan of action, which MPs would be able to debate and vote on. She tore into the deep division and animosity which she warned is tearing her party, and the country, apart.

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