Setting up new showdown, Britain's May rejects Brexit proposal

Leroy Wright
June 21, 2018

The Government has been defeated in the House of Lords over giving MPs a "meaningful vote" on the final Brexit deal.

However, they have fallen into a row with lawmakers from May's Conservative Party who want parliament to have a say in the exit process if talks in Brussels fail to reach an acceptable divorce deal.

"If the Prime Minister's final Brexit deal is voted down, that can not give her licence to crash the United Kingdom out of the European Union without an agreement", Labour's Brexit spokesman Matthew Pennycook said in a statement.

Prime Minister Theresa May's minority Conservative government is fighting with rebels from her own party over the final wording of the laws that will end Britain's European Union membership - a bitter row which threatens to undermine her authority.

After an ill-judged election past year, May relies on the help of a deal with a small Northern Irish party to win votes in the Commons and can afford to lose no more than a handful of Conservative rebels if she is to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

Rebel ringleader Mr Grieve made it clear pro-Europe Tories did not intend to back down in their clash with Prime Minister Theresa May over how much say the Commons gets over Brexit.

Grieve and a cohort of potential Conservative rebels with enough votes to defeat the government want parliament to have more influence over the next steps than ministers are prepared to give them.

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That would tee up a showdown when the bill returns for a more decisive vote in the elected House of Commons on Wednesday, where May's minority government can afford to lose no more than a handful of Conservative rebels.

But Lords' leader Baroness Evans of Bowes Park said the amendment had "flaws" and insisted the Government had come back with a "fair, practical and constitutionally sound offer" to meet the demands of peers and MPs.

But pro-Brexit MP Nigel Evans said he was "staggered" by Mr Grieve's remarks.

The minister leading those negotiations, Solicitor General Robert Buckland, said the government was standing by its own proposal, rejected by party rebels last week. The decision of the Lords represents another blow for May and the appeal will have to be discussed again on Wednesday in the House of Commons.

He told BBC Radio 4's The Westminster Hour: "I don't want to fetter my Prime Minister while she's negotiating the best deal for Britain".

"The alternative is that we have all got to sign-up to a slavery clause now saying whatever the Government does, when it comes to January, however potentially catastrophic it might be for my constituents, and my country, I'm signing in blood now that I will follow over the edge of the cliff".

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