Government avoids EU Withdrawal Bill defeat after last-ditch deal on 'meaningful vote'

Evarado Alatorre
Junio 13, 2018

Britain's Brexit minister told parliament on Tuesday to back down in a showdown over Prime Minister Theresa May's plans to leave the European Union, warning lawmakers they could undermine negotiations.

MPs voted 324 to 298 to reject the proposal, which had come to parliament after the Lords brought amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. However, as things stand now, they will not be able to send the government back into negotiations if they reject an agreement with the EU. Her mission is clear: to find a way to unite the warring Brexit factions in her party before they derail the government.

For now, May saw off a revolt that would have challenged her authority at a time when she is increasingly under pressure to move ahead with all-but-stalled Brexit talks in Brussels by offering a more detailed plan.

Brexit Secretary David Davis, who reportedly has clashed with May, has warned Conservative Party rebels that proposals to give Parliament the power to direct negotiations with the European Union are simply a tactic to overturn the results of the 2016 referendum that mandated Britain's departure from the bloc.

The Tory Brexiteer claimed the so-called concessions made by Prime Minister Theresa May to Remainer MPs on Tuesday will prevent the United Kingdom to ever have a strong position in the negotiations with Brussels.

Mr Grieve ended up voting with the Government - against his own amendment - and said he believes MPs will be offered a meaningful vote as promised by the Prime Minister. Philip Lee said a choice between "bad and worse" options was not giving MPs a meaningful vote.

Anna Soubry, a pro-EU Conservative lawmaker, said she knew of one legislator who would not vote with their conscience because of "threats to their personal safety" and that of staff and family. "Now we have a real vote and an opportunity for Parliament to influence and approve the final deal", Nicky Morgan, a high-profile pro-EU lawmaker, said in an interview. The two then discussed a deal in whispers as other lawmakers made speeches around them.

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.

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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.

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

The concession means MPs could be given power to prevent Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

The problem for the prime minister is that she can't keep both sides happy.

The SNP doesn't have any Lords because of an ideological disagreement with the concept of an unelected upper house - but it does have plenty of MPs in the Commons.

There is little May can do.

No - Even with the support of 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs, May has a working majority of just 13 in the Commons, which means she can be defeated by a rebellion of as few as seven Tory backbenchers.

Often she simply puts off votes that could end in embarrassing defeats.

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