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

MPs force major soft Brexit shift

MPs force major soft Brexit shift

Lee said "the people, economy and culture of my constituency will be affected negatively" by Britain's European Union departure, and it is "irresponsible to proceed as we are".

Among the 14 amendments to the Bill - set to be voted on by MPs on Tuesday and Wednesday - are changes which would see the United Kingdom stay in the Single Market and would allow Parliament to dictate future negotiating terms.

The Lib Dems, who identify strongly as an anti-Brexit party to the point of pushing for a second referendum and running by-elections in Remain-friendly seats on that platform, opposed the Government. Although, as things stand, they will not be able to send the government back into negotiations if they reject an agreement with the EU.

Commenting after Tuesday's votes, Dr Lee said: "Delighted that the government has agreed to introduce an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which will give Parliament the voice I always wanted it to have in the Brexit process".

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.

Brexit protesters outside Parliament House.

"It claims that it's to prevent no deal or a bad deal and give Parliament a meaningful vote and a say on that".

But if the amendments being debated in Parliament this week force a change to the government's negotiating strategy, the wound could yet reopen.

"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.

Britain's highest-selling tabloid, The Sun, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, addressed lawmakers directly on its front page, saying they faced a choice between "Great Britain or Great Betrayal". The Daily Express thundered: "Ignore the will of the people at your peril".

A file photograph of justice minister Phillip Lees.

After it was not clear whether that would win over potential rebels, a minister offered Grieve a compromise to discuss parts of his amendment that the government could adopt - a move aimed at warding off a potential rebellion led by the lawmaker.

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

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.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, and the bloc is frustrated with what it sees as a lack of firm proposals from the U.K about future relations.

Fellow MP Antoinette Sandbach rejected suggestions by leading Brexiteers in her party that this would tie the prime minister's hands in negotiations.

A paper laying out the U.K. government position, due to be published this month, has been delayed because the Cabinet can not agree on a united stance.

The Labour Party's Chuka Umunna, who backed staying in the European Union, welcomed the concession as the end of the government threatening to allow Britain to crash out of the European Union without a deal.

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