Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Government wins Brexit bill vote after concessions

Government wins Brexit bill vote after concessions

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is in a frantic search for the flawless compromise.

Seeking to placate would-be Conservative rebels, government frontbenchers offered to meet them to discuss their concerns, and agreed to "engage positively" on a "compromise" put forward by one of them, former attorney general Dominic Grieve.

But Solicitor General Robert Buckland said while talks may "yield fruit" - he could not guarantee a change in policy. "The end of March 2019, we leave the E.U. Full stop".

MPs will hold further votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill on Wednesday, including a House of Lords demand for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU's single market.

Remain-supporting Conservative Anna Soubry, one of the MPs who met Mrs May on Tuesday, said she trusted Mrs May to "honour the undertaking she gave".

Members of Parliament decided by 324 votes to 298 - a majority of 26 - to reject a House of Lords amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The government's eleventh hour amendment, lifted in large parts from Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve's own proposal and to be presented to the Lords on Monday, is expected to give MPs the right to veto the government's strategy if it fails to secure a political agreement with the European Union by 30 November.

Earlier, May appeared to have also stemmed a rebellion on Wednesday over her commitment to leaving the EU's customs union which will transform Britain's trading relationships for decades to come.

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Hours before the debate began, a justice minister resigned in protest at what he called its "wish to limit" the role of parliament in shaping Brexit.

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"That was the decision of the British people. and whatever we do, we're not going to reverse that", he told the BBC.

Crucially, ministers have conceded that if MPs vote down the Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels, that will not result in the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union with no deal - a scenario that few MPs would countenance because of the significant economic damage it would entail. She tore into the deep division and animosity which she warned is tearing her party, and the country, apart.

Those developments are likely to lower expectations of a Bank of England interest rate rise in August, given the central bank has said it wants to see more wage pressures before it increases borrowing costs.

If May is defeated by a wide margin her position as Prime Minister could be threatened. "I'm fairly confident we will be able to do that". "It enables parliament to dictate to the government their course of action in worldwide negotiations".

Grieve's proposal also suggested if no deal was reached by February 15, the government would be required to allow the House of Commons to set the terms of the deal.

"But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined".

The key Brexit bill is back in the Commons today and tomorrow for a series of knife-edge votes that will determine the future of the Brexit process. "There is an expectation that a discussion will yield fruit and I am not saying it won't". May's been resisting the demand because she doesn't want her hands to be tied during the talks. "I am confident I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the European Union which is as frictionless as possible", she said.

Earlier in the day Mr Freeman had offered support to Phillip Lee who had resigned as a justice minister in order to oppose the government on Brexit.

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.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "As has become a tradition in Brexit negotiations, the Tories have been forced to cobble together a compromise".

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