Britain's Theresa May wins key vote, but loses a junior minister

Anti-Brexit demonstrators wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London Britain

Anti-Brexit demonstrators wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London Britain

(EurActiv) - Theresa May avoided a humiliating parliamentary defeat to her government's European Union withdrawal bill, but only after appearing to promise rebel MPs an effective block on a "no deal" Brexit.

It's highly likely that the lords will either reinstate their original amendment (or the Grieve version of their amendment), so we can expect many more conversations like this happening behind closed doors in the days to come. "If-and only if-this is all done by October, we then expect the United Kingdom parliament to debate and approve the final agreement (subject to the Withdrawal Bill amendments above), before it returns to the EU for approval by both the EU leaders (by qualified majority) and the EU Parliament (by absolute majority)".

But today a Downing Street spokesman said the government would not be considering the third clause, confirming it is "not up for discussion".

When the Commons last decided on the meaningful vote, in December, ministers offered last-minute concessions at the end of the debate, but it prompted shouts of "too late" from the Tory rebels, who then went on to defeat the government.

Shortly before 1.30pm on Tuesday, David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, opposed a House of Lords amendment in no uncertain terms.

Mike Russell, the Scottish Government's Brexit minister, branded the UK Government a "travesty and a disgrace", asking "How can any meaningful negotiation take place after that?"

Specifically, government ministers must not act in any way which would cause "physical infrastructure" or any kind of "checks and controls" on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Dominic Grieve withdrew his own amendment, which would have given MPs powers to dictate what the Government should do if no acceptable agreement is reached by February 2019.


However, May's pro-European lawmakers warned that they could yet rebel if she backtracks on promises to give parliament a greater say in the final withdrawal deal.

Conservative former minister Anna Soubry said the abuse of MPs who speak out against the government's Brexit policy "simply has to stop".

The Withdrawal Bill will need to pass through the House of Lords once more time before being signed into law, but we would expect this to proceed relatively smoothly: this coming week is the chance for the real showdown to occur.

Tory MP Mr Grieve later confirmed he would rebel against the Government by supporting the Lords EEA amendment, telling the Commons: "There becomes a point when you have to stand up and be counted, and if it's not this week it has to be next week".

But the resignation by Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of the government's Brexit strategy, underlined the deep rifts in the party over Brexit that makes such votes anything but easy.

The British government is in talks with lawmakers to find a way around an amendment proposed by parliament's upper house which challenges Prime Minister Theresa May's refusal to pursue a customs union with the EU, a Brexit minister said on Monday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May looks set to avoid an embarrassing defeat in parliament on Wednesday over her post-Brexit trade plans, a day after she defused a rebellion in her party over plans to leave the European Union.

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