British MPs Vote Down Amendment to Veto Brexit Deal

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 14, 2018

"We must think about the message parliament will send to the European Union this week", May told MPs in her centre-right Conservative Party late Monday.

The strained parliamentary session underlined deep divisions over Britain's European Union exit.

"Secondly, we can not change the fundamental constitutional structure which makes the Government responsible for global relations and worldwide treaties".

Now we have arrived at the final battle between the two chambers and the government.

On Wednesday the British parliament will vote on an amendment by the House of Lords requiring the House of Commons to explore remaining part of the European Economic Area (EEA), an option often referred to as "the Norway model".

The pro-European cause was boosted when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, a friend of May's, resigned shortly before the debate in order to back the veto amendment.

Parliament will vote Tuesday on a key piece of legislation, the E.U. Withdrawal bill, that would transfer European Union laws now on British books into British law after Brexit.

Also on Tuesday, the government successfully overturned an attempt to remove the date of Brexit from the face of the bill.

Opening the debate, Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted the government would abide by three principles to defend the will of the British people. First, the text needs to honour her pledge to pro-EU Tories that she'll take account of their concerns about the possibility of leaving the bloc without a deal and give Parliament more say over the process.

Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan
EU Withdrawal Bill debate: Day 1

The antagonistic tone of much of the discussion underlined how exasperated many MPs have become, about what Grieve called "the irrationality of the debate on the detail of Brexit" - turbocharged by the bellicose front pages of the rightwing newspapers. The Scottish National Party described the timings as "totally laughable".

Prime Minister Theresa May looked 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 control of Britain's exit from the European Union. The government wants the Commons to reject 14 out of 15 amendments introduced by the Lords which are meant to keep Britain close to the European Union after Brexit.

Leading pro-EU Conservative Sarah Wollaston said the "promised further amendment" in the Lords must "closely reflect" the withdrawn proposal. Grieve himself described it to the BBC afterwards as an "absolutely normal" compromise.

The division list showed that 74 rebel Labour MPs voted to back the Lords EEA amendment, even though he ordered them to abstain. The difference in this particular case is the enormity of the issue in the context of Brexit and in a climate of suspicion and hostility from many on the Conservative backbenches towards their leader.

So just hours after the concession, (or non-concession) very, very dark mutterings began from those who had been persuaded by what they thought was a promise.

The vote is being sold as a victory for Grieve and his band of Tory rebels.

Theresa May's Brexit truce risked being unravelled as Remainers indicated she faced a future rebellion if a compromise is not reached on the role of MPs in the divorce settlement.

Since there is certainly no majority among MPs for no deal - which all but a hard core of Brexit ultras believe would be disastrous - that now makes no deal extremely unlikely.

The next few days and weeks will be a challenge for all parties.

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