United Kingdom minister resigns, plans to rebel over parliament's Brexit role

Evarado Alatorre
Junio 14, 2018

On the second day of debate on changes to May's EU withdrawal bill, lawmakers will vote on amendments handed down from the upper house of parliament over Britain's relationship to the bloc's customs union and single market.

The Prime Minister bought time after agreeing to find concessions on giving Parliament a meaningful vote on the European Union exit deal.

If it had been accepted the amendment would have given the lower chamber, the House of Commons, a "meaningful vote" on any deal agreed with Brussels before Britain leaves the European Union in March next year.

In a full statement later posted on his website, Lee said his resignation was a protest against the government's attempts to limit the role of MPs in shaping what sort of Brexit Britain will have. The government earlier had said it would not support that amendment.

If the Conservative rebels want to win the battle on parliament's scrutiny and control over the final Brexit deal, they must maintain a united front.

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-EU faction got a boost when junior justice minister Phillip Lee resigned Tuesday, saying he could no longer support the government's "irresponsible" plans for Brexit.

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill, coming back down to the Commons from the unelected Lords, is the draft law that would set the legal framework for Brexit.

Six Labour MPs resigned from senior roles in the party to defy Jeremy Corbyn on the single market vote, illustrating how it isn't just the Conservatives that are split over the Brexit question. But for those millions of former Remainer voters holding out for a hero until the end of the night, it's still unclear if rebel leader Dominic Grieve will fit the bill.

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If Brexit is softened in this way, an influential group of euroskeptics in May's party could challenge her leadership.

Pro-EU lawmakers, however, welcomed it as a signal that the government was moving towards ruling out a hardline "no deal" Brexit. Flashpoints include proposals to increase the power of parliament to decide on the final Brexit deal, and others seeking to keep Britain tightly aligned with the EU's economy after it leaves the bloc.

Opening the debate, Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted the government would abide by three principles to defend the will of the British people.

"How much more damage is the Prime Minister going to do to the country before she realises the important thing is to get a deal for the people of this country, not one to appease the clashing giant egos of her Cabinet?"

Details of the government's commitment will have to be formalized next week in a new amendment to the bill.

The division list showed that 74 rebel Labour MPs voted to back the Lords EEA amendment, even though he ordered them to abstain.

"The Government's amendment today provides for a meaningful vote". MPs will vote on this particular amendment this afternoon.

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

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