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

Elias Hubbard
June 14, 2018

He said: "I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill". The upper chamber, the House of Lords, inserted amendments in 15 areas to soften the terms of Britain's departure.

The government says the changes would weaken Britain's negotiating position, and is seeking to alter or reverse them in the Commons. But May is facing a potential rebellion from some lawmakers from her Conservative Party who want to retain close ties with the bloc after the U.K.'s exit takes effect. Given that after November 30, the House of Commons looks set to be empowered in the negotiations, it would not be in Barnier's interest to negotiate a harder form of Brexit before the U.K.'s self-imposed deadline.

His competing amendment could force ministers to hand over control of its Brexit strategy to parliament if there is no deal by mid-February.

The government was putting a combative spin on the concessions Tuesday evening: "The Brexit Secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet - not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of Parliament and Government in negotiating worldwide treaties, and respecting the referendum result", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement.

Dr Lee's shock departure came as Brexit Secretary David Davis warned potential Tory rebels that they can not undo the European Union referendum, ahead of a tricky 48 hours in which the Government will try to get its Brexit programme back on track.

"It's not practical, it's not desirable and it's not appropriate", he said.

An issue paper published last week by the United Kingdom government which proposed keeping the whole of the United Kingdom - and not just Northern Ireland - in line with European Union regulations until a permanent future relationship can be negotiated, which it proposed would be 2021.

But pro-EU Tory MP Heidi Allen warned that other members of the Government may follow Dr Lee out of the door.

The Prime Minister appeared to have defused a potentially explosive row over the EU customs union on Monday night as Tory pro-Europe rebels Sir Oliver Letwin and Nicky Morgan and Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Sir Bill Cash came together to table a separate compromise amendment backing "a customs arrangement" with the EU.

A file photograph of justice minister Phillip Lees.

In the tense atmosphere where it was not clear which way the vote would go, the government secured its victory only after offering concessions to one of the leaders of a group of Conservative lawmakers who were threatening to vote against May.

"The decision was taken by the people, we gave them that decision and we have to stand by it", said Conservative MP Bill Cash.

Further clashes were expected on Wednesday during debate on amendments relating to how closely Britain stays aligned with the EU's economy after leaving.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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