Friday, 17 August, 2018

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

Brexit news UK EU Theresa May second referendum ITV•GETTYBrexit news Edwina Currie said she is"totally against a second Brexit referendum
Deanna Wagner | 13 June, 2018, 08:15

The issue of a "meaningful vote" is set to be a flashpoint in the Commons, with ministers seeking to overturn a Lords amendment which would give Parliament extensive powers to direct ministers how to proceed if a deal with Brussels is rejected by MPs or no deal is reached.

The Prime Minister met pro-EU Tories in her private room in the Commons moments before the crucial vote to hear their demands for a truly meaningful vote on the final deal.

Conservative lawmaker Phillip Lee, who voted to remain in the European Union in Britain's 2016 referendum, resigned as a justice minister so he could vote against the government on a key measure.

Theresa May has suffered a ministerial resignation ahead of crunch Commons votes on Brexit, with Phillip Lee hitting out at the Government's "irresponsible" approach.

Following a meeting with Theresa May, Tory MPs said they had been promised "input" into what the government would do if the United Kingdom faced a no-deal scenario.

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.

Remain-supporting Conservative MPs had threatened to defeat the government on an amendment to the bill which would have given Parliament a wide-ranging veto to May's Brexit deal, or even force a second referendum. Philip Lee said a choice between "bad and worse" options was not giving MPs a meaningful vote.

Earlier, May appeared to have also stemmed a rebellion over her commitment to leaving the EU's customs union which will transform Britain's trading relationships for decades to come.

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The bill underpins the government's Brexit strategy.

MPs voted at 5.30pm today, with 324 votes to 298 - a majority of 26 - to reject the amendment.

But Tuesday's victory came at a cost - a government promise to strengthen Parliament's voice, potentially at the expense of its own power to set the terms of any final divorce deal with the EU.

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve had been a repeat rebel in previous debates, but he voted with the government after "personal assurances" from Theresa May - because he is "quite satisfied" MPs will end up with a meaningful vote anyway.

Passions ran high in Tuesday's three-hour debate, when angry eurosceptics accused their rivals of trying to undermine the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer commented: "This vote was about ensuring parliament was given a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no deal situation, which is becoming more likely with the divisions at the heart of this government".

But Solicitor General Robert Buckland publicly implied that Government would be accepting part of Grieve's amendment, and said that a "structured discussion" would take place with rebels.

But once Britain leaves the E.U.it must find a way to regulate or otherwise account for goods crossing its border into Northern Ireland while keeping it open.