May wins Brexit vote, avoids rebellion

14 Juin, 2018, 07:59 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Britain's Secretary of State for Education Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan

They are rallying around an amendment giving the House of Commons power to send the government back to the negotiating table with Brussels if lawmakers don't like the terms of the Brexit deal struck with the EU.

Facing the prospect of losing a vote on a crucial amendment to the government's flagship Brexit legislation - which was created to empower parliament to vote down the final deal without risking a "no-deal" exit from the bloc - ministers intervened with a concession at the 11th hour even as MPs were wrapping up debate on the controversial measure.

He said that remaining in the EEA, which includes membership of the single market, was not a ideal solution.

May met with more than a dozen Tory would-be rebels shortly before the vote to reassure them, although exactly what she promised is in dispute.

The Prime Minister appeared to have defused a potentially explosive row over the EU customs union on Monday night as Tory pro-Europe rebels Sir Oliver Letwin and Nicky Morgan and Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Sir Bill Cash came together to table a separate compromise amendment backing "a customs arrangement" with the EU.

"Anything that undermines the government at home will make negotiations with the European Union more hard", May told a meeting of her cabinet.

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said that the only reason May's government had decided on a climb down was because 'they thought they were going to lose the vote'.

But in unusual scenes, ministers were forced to offer a last-minute compromise to pro-European MPs, negotiated in part in huddles in the chamber as the debate raged.

Flint said she could not support EEA membership because it would mean there would be no restriction on free movement.

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If that wasn't bad enough, they rebelled in different directions, with 75 voting for EEA membership, and 15 voting against. A total of 89 Labour MPs defied Corbyn in the vote on this amendment, making it the party's biggest Brexit rebellion yet.

His competing amendment could force ministers to hand over control of its Brexit strategy to parliament if there is no deal by mid-February.

"We are asking members of parliament to abide by the referendum result, our manifesto commitment and to back our country", Andrew Bridgen, Conservative lawmaker and Brexit campaigner, told Reuters.

In a day of drama, May's position seemed suddenly weaker when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of the government's Brexit strategy, resigned and said he would vote against the government.

The formal separation is to happen in March 2019.

"The Labour Party respects the outcome of the European Union referendum and does not support the EEA or Norway model as it is not the right for option for Britain".

If day one of this week's voting on the Brexit bill was all about the Conservative split on the so-called "meaningful vote", day two was about Labour disarray.

But the Prime Minister is likely to face the risk of further rebellions further down the line. She now relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party.

She said unless there was a "meaningful vote" Parliament would be left with "the grim choice between a poor deal and exit with no deal at all".

"The question of what form parliamentary approval of the withdrawal bill takes is one of the most significant decisions this house will have to take", he said.

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