Don’t tie our hands in Brexit negotiations, British government tells parliament

Heidi Alexander

It is believed the concession offered by ministers included offering a new Parliamentary motion if the Brexit deal is voted down by MPs and peers.

The Government has avoided a major defeat on its Brexit Bill after a last-minute concession, Tory rebel Dominic Grieve explains just exactly what the concession was.

However, despite the Government's success in defeating the Lord's amendment, some concessions have to be made to appease Tory rebels.

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.

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.

Theresa May is facing one of the biggest tests of her leadership, with Tory rebels threatening to vote against their own party to force through amendments to the bill.

If some of its leave-supporting lawmakers choose to vote against the amendment, the government could avoid defeat altogether.

The concession on a meaningful vote came after intensive horse-trading on the floor of the House of Commons, with chief whip Julian Smith shuttling between Tory backbenchers during debate on Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

"This justifies my decision to resign and makes it a lot less painful".

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Brexit Secretary David Davis urged MPs to "respect the result of the referendum" that approved the withdrawal. A victory for the "meaningful final vote" amendment would leave the government weaker in am upcoming round of talks with European Union negotiators in late June, and also weaken Theresa May's authority as leader.

"I can not support the government's decision to oppose this amendment because doing so breaches such fundamental principles of human rights and parliamentary sovereignty", he said.

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.

Asked whether such concessions would nowAsked whether such concessions would hamper Britain's negotiating hand, Mr Grieve continued: "I disagree with that entirely".

The logic of that argument is that EU negotiator Michel Barnier would prefer the softest of Brexits - a model known as "Norway plus", in which Britain remains in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the customs union, accepting all single market rules, including freedom of movement, and the EU's trade policy without any representation in Brussels.

MPs will hold further votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill on Wednesday, including a House of Lords demand for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU's single market.

Its Lords were instrumental in bringing about some of the amendments that have been sent back to the Commons.

A junior minister in the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May resigned on Tuesday ahead of a crucial vote that could decide the future of Brexit-and perhaps the Prime Minister herself.

Rebels had been pushing for an amendment that would have given Parliament unprecedented powers over the final stages of Brexit talks.

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