Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Brexit 'meaningful vote' rejected as PM strikes deal with Tory rebels


"The government can not demonstrate the flexibility necessary for a successful deal if its hands are tied midway through that process", Davis said. The strained parliament session underlined deep divisions over Britain's European Union exit.

Just three hours later, ministers caved in. He said he would vote against the prime minister.

But just an hour before the vote, due at around 1500 GMT, the government sought to compromise with senior pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve, who had put forward his own amendment, which increased the risk of a government defeat.

As with last week's set-to with Davis over the Northern Irish backstop, both sides of the Brexit culture war in the Tory party were nearly immediately in dispute about what the climbdown meant - and who had won. The news they all voted against is no surprise, as the party supports not leaving the European Union altogether.

Crucially, ministers have conceded that if MPs vote down the Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels, that will not result in the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union with no deal - a scenario that few MPs would countenance because of the significant economic damage it would entail.

He also expressed his trust in Mrs May's promises, stating: "I have no doubt in the Prime Minister in what she told us and I hope that we will come to a very satisfactory solution". If the compromise fails, the rebels are likely to revert back to their original motion, which would potentially strip May of control over running the Brexit negotiations and hand it to Parliament, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown in parliament with lawmakers later on Tuesday who want a "meaningful vote" on an eventual Brexit deal and to set the government's "direction" if the house rejects the agreement.

Further ahead, there is the growing possibility of MPs forcing another referendum or a snap election on the eventual Brexit deal.

Mr. Lee resigned from the Ministry of Justice to back the amendment, saying parliament should be able to direct the government to change course.

"It was so positive it enabled quite a large number of my colleagues to vote to remove the Lords' amendments and substitute the Government's amendments".

Which side won on Tuesday will become much clearer in the next few days, when the government amendment is tabled in black and white.

As the clock ticked down to the vote, two rebels stood up to say they were satisfied with what the government had offered them.

"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.

Earlier Phillip Lee - who quit as a justice minister to oppose the government on Brexit - received a round of applause after he set out his stance.

The upper chamber, the House of Lords, inserted amendments in 15 areas to soften the departure.

The government will try to overturn the 14 main amendments and a Brexit minister, Steve Baker, said the government was in talks with lawmakers to find a way around one on the customs union which challenges May's strategy. After losing her party's majority in parliament at an ill-judged election previous year, she now relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party and the distance between victory and defeat is narrow.

Brexit protesters outside Parliament House.

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