DUP to back Theresa May over Brexit amendments

U.K. Minister Phillip Lee Resigns Ahead of Brexit Bill Showdown

In a day of drama, May's position seemed suddenly weaker when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of Brexit strategy, resigned and said he would vote against the government.

Under the proposal, if no deal has been reached with Brussels by this point, the government will return to the House of Commons to determine the next course of action.

The rebels pulled back from voting against May in Parliament in London on Tuesday but only after she made a dramatic last minute appeal to them to trust her.

After days of frantic lobbying by Conservative officials to try to get the party on board, May renewed appeals for unity over the "meaningful vote", after the government appeared to have secured a compromise to stop a similar rebellion on Wednesday over Britain's trading ties with the EU.

His resignation came hours before British Prime Minister Theresa May faces crunch votes in parliament and a potential showdown with pro-EU rebels in her ruling party over whether parliament can prevent a no-deal Brexit.

The upshot of the shift may well be as dramatic as the parliamentary procedure is incomprehensible.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland intervened four times during a speech by the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, whose amendment would effectively give MPs a veto on the government's negotiating agenda if a deal isn't done by the end of November. Its Lords were instrumental in bringing about some of the amendments that have been sent back to the Commons.

They also voted to disagree with Lords amendment 37, which was part of an attempt to remove the exit day from the Bill and allow the Commons to rethink its approach.

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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. "How can Boris [Johnson, the foreign secretary] and the ERG [the European Research Group of Euroskeptic MPs] live with this?"

Among the 14 amendments to the Bill - set to be voted on by MPs on Tuesday and Wednesday - are changes which would see the United Kingdom stay in the Single Market and would allow Parliament to dictate future negotiating terms. That effectively rules out threatening the European Union with a no-deal Brexit, because the Commons will not approve a no-deal Brexit.

"But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined".

"We will be talking to the government immediately after this in order to find a common way forward".

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. How Brexiteers react to that prospect could determine how long this Government survives. The government earlier had said it would not support that amendment. Yes, it's a significant compromise but we live to fight another day.

Dismissing the Government's compromise, she tweeted: "Merely issuing a statement in response would make it a meaningless final vote".

The resignation of Phillip Lee could spell trouble for the British government, which wants the country's lawmakers to approve its strategy for withdrawal from the European Union.

Labour's Brexit policy chief, Keir Starmer, said May had been forced to avoid a "humiliating defeat" and "to enter negotiations with her backbenchers".

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