Theresa May avoids Commons defeat after Brexit climbdown

Theresa May avoids Commons defeat after Brexit climbdown

They reassured anti-Brexit MPs that the government would accept some of their core demands to give parliament a meaningful say on the terms of Britain's European Union divorce, including - potentially - a new deadline for a deal to be agreed with Brussels that could make it hard for the government.

Scottish Government ministers and SNP MPs were outraged when amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill related to devolution were passed by the House of Commons after just 15 minutes of debate - with Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington the only member who made a speech.

The cost of support from the potential rebels, to win Tuesday night's votes, was a promise to give MPs a say if a deal is not struck with the European Union, as many were concerned about the idea that "no deal is better than a bad deal". He said Mrs May "has gone back on her word and offered an amendment that takes the meaning out of the meaningful vote".

At nearly the final moment on Tuesday, the two sides agreed to find a compromise and have until 1600 GMT to present it.

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said: "I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill".

Mr Grieve withdrew his own amendment, which would have given MPs powers to dictate what the Government should do if no acceptable agreement is reached by February 2019.

Above all, the Government has made a complete mess of Brexit as it lurches from crisis to crisis and can not even agree its basic negotiating position on the big issues.

It's highly likely that the lords will either reinstate their original amendment (or the Grieve version of their amendment), so we can expect many more conversations like this happening behind closed doors in the days to come.

The Lords amendment overturned on Tuesday would have given parliament the power to decide whether to leave the European Union if no deal is reached, keep negotiating - or stay in the bloc.

Dominic Grieve, arch-Remainer and leading rebel, has tabled his own amendment which is a compromise on the meaningful vote one.

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Remain-supporting Dr Lee said: "If Brexit is worth doing, then it is certainly worth doing well" and it is "irresponsible to proceed as we are".

Although proportionately more Conservative voters opted to leave the European Union, the Brexit vote is split across traditional political lines. This is where Conservative rebels like Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Ken Clark are expected to make their biggest move on customs.

"The question is how do we take some sensible steps to anticipate that happening and try to make sure that there is a coherent process for dealing with it".

After a spokesman for Mrs May sowed confusion over what potential rebels had been offered, the prime minister was hit by calls from pro-EU Conservatives not to backtrack on her promises.

He added: "When I hear some of the hardline Brexiteers say, "well you know there will be a short term price to pay but we will be OK in the long run" - people were not told that two years ago".

And he said that Parliament should be empowered "to direct our Government to change course in our interests".

The government earlier had said it would not support that amendment.

The government was putting a combative spin on the concessions Tuesday evening: "The Brexit Secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet - not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of Parliament and Government in negotiating global treaties, and respecting the referendum result", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement.

But rebelling on the bill for the first time, Hilary Benn, the former shadow foreign secretary, who chairs the Commons cross-party Brexit committee, said there comes a point where "we have to stand up and be counted".

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