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

UK Brexit minister says parliament vote cannot reverse Brexit

UK Brexit minister says parliament vote cannot reverse Brexit

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.

A Commons defeat on the issue would have been a significant blow to May's authority and risked triggering a leadership crisis for the prime minister.

This came after a last-minute resignation by the justice minister Dr Phillip Lee, who said he could no longer look his children in the eye and vote to support the government.

He accused the Government of trying to "limit" Parliament's role and called for another referendum once ministers' chosen path becomes clear.

The Democratic Unionist Party has said it will be supporting the government in the votes.

Earlier this year, Lee had called on the government to release its economic impact assessments of Brexit and suggested the government change tack in talks with the European Union, underlining the deep rifts in his party over the best way to manage Britain's exit.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman had earlier indicated he was not sure how he would vote on the question of whether parliament should get a final say on the Brexit deal.

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.

The final vote, as outlined in Grieve third point, would be different as the government would then have to follow any direction given by the Commons.

Theresa May ultimately persuaded all but two of her MPs to back her in the decisive vote in Westminster on Tuesday - but she increasingly appears little more than a hostage to the warring factions in a bitterly divided Conservative party.

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.

MPs will spend a total of 12 hours debating and voting on 14 Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill - six hours on Tuesday and six hours on Wednesday.

Former Attorney-general Dominic Grieve, a leading pro-E.U. rebel, has put down a compromise amendment on the meaningful vote, calling for a binding motion to be passed by the Commons setting out how to proceed in the event of a "no deal" Brexit. She now relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party.

Brexit minister David Davis had earlier warned lawmakers that the government would never allow them to "reverse Brexit" or undermine negotiations. The government fears a weakened negotiating position.

May's divided cabinet has yet to settle on what sort of customs deal Britain should have with the European Union - an issue of crucial importance to businesses with cross-border supply chains, and the land border between European Union member state Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

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