Brexit: House of Lords EU Withdrawal Bill amendment voted down by MPs

Leroy Wright
June 13, 2018

Grieve and the government were expected to negotiate a new amendment, to be tabled when the bill reaches the House of Lords next week.

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".

Two days of debate on the laws that will end Britain's European Union membership have crystallised long-running divisions within May's party about the best strategy for leaving the European Union, bringing to a head issues that will determine the relationship between the world's fifth-largest economy and its biggest trading bloc.

This is how one of the rebels put it to me: "I think the issue that has been decided is not that there could never be a No-Deal Brexit".

Parliament must decide whether to support an amendment approved by the House of Lords that could mean sending May back into negotiations with the European Union if lawmakers reject a Brexit deal.

A third development, which would allow MPs to direct the government on future talks if there is no resolution on the withdrawal agreement by 15 February, is also on the cards.

Leading pro-EU Conservative Sarah Wollaston announced she would vote with the Government so long as a promised further amendment in the Lords "closely reflects" the Grieve proposals.

More than a dozen MPs who were called into the prime minister's office in the final minutes of the Brexit debate on Tuesday believed they had received assurances the government would discuss clause C of an amendment tabled by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve.

Earlier, the prime minister had been hit by the resignation of justice minister Phillip Lee, who came out in support of a second referendum on the UK's final divorce deal and criticised Mrs May's Brexit policy.

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"They're even whispering during Prime Minister's Question Time", he said of the cabinet ministers sitting opposite him in the Commons. Philip Lee said a choice between "bad and worse" options was not giving MPs a meaningful vote.

Brexit Secretary David Davis and Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

May objected to the amendment - inserted by the House of Lords - because she said it would tie her hands in the negotiation.

The Brexit Department said in a statement that it would look for compromise, but would not agree to lawmakers "binding the government's hands" in negotiations.

The SNP doesn't have any Lords because of an ideological disagreement with the concept of an unelected upper house - but it does have plenty of MPs in the Commons.

Traders will stay tuned into Brexit noise where the UK Prime Minister faces a series of challenging parliamentary votes on her plan to leave the customs union and single market after Brexit, but it will soon be time for the European Central Bank and FOMC.

Brexiteers were dejected by the turn of events, but are pinning their immediate hopes on the detail in the government's compromise. They told the anti-hard-Brexit rebels that they would propose their own amendment that, in effect, gave them what they wanted.

One government official said: "It's not over yet". He said he would vote against the prime minister.

The government has avoided a major defeat on its Brexit bill by 324 votes to 298 after a late concession.

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