Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

How Theresa May saw off another Brexit rebellion

How Theresa May saw off another Brexit rebellion

Prime Minister Theresa May's government has promised to give parliament a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal it negotiates with Brussels, but what does that actually mean?

The main Conservative rebel to the Government, the former attorney general Dominic Grieve MP, was attempting to attach an amendment on to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which would have allowed Parliament to block the option of a no deal scenario in the Brexit process if the Government could not reach an agreement with the EU.

Six Tory MPs - Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Antoinette Sandbach and Phillip Lee - rebelled, while the government also had the backing of four Labour opposition MPs.

What the Tory rebels wanted was assurance that, if the final negotiations fall apart and the government walks away with no deal, MPs would then be given a vote on what we do next.

The Brexit Withdrawal bill will now go back to the House of Lords where it is nearly certain to be supported, paving the way for Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II.

Earlier the Commons had rejected an amendment which would have given MPs the power to block a "no deal" Brexit by 319 votes to 303.

A senior Tory source said: "The chief whip has been writing to local associations telling members to put pressure on their MPs not to vote against the Government on Brexit".

Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer accused May of telling Parliament: "Tough luck".

Sterling rose to a session high against the euro and climbed against the dollar after May won the rare victory, one which will give the weakened prime minister a firmer footing when she travels to Brussels next week for an European Union summit.

He said the government had "to be able to hold out in our negotiations the prospect of no deal" otherwise the European Union would get the upper hand.

"You can not enter a negotiation without the right to walk away", Brexit Secretary David Davis told lawmakers.

But for May, the Brexit battles are not over, with other bills relating to Brexit waiting in the wings to be discussed by the Houses of Parliament.

Parliament will decide which version to approve later on Wednesday in what is expected to be a very tight vote.

Later Grieve told the Guardian newspaper: "We've managed to reach a compromise without breaking the government - and I think some people don't realise we were getting quite close to that".

"And in the circumstances that might follow a no deal, which would undoubtedly be one of the biggest political crises in modern British history, if the house wishes to speak ... the house has the power to do it", Grieve said.

A paper setting out the U.K. government position on future relations, due to be published this month, has been delayed until July because the Cabinet can not agree on a united stance. "The disruption that would create to the economy, not only on the continent but certainly in Britain, would be huge and that we have to avoid".

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