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

U.K. Minister Phillip Lee Resigns Ahead of Brexit Bill Showdown


The government was forced into a major compromise on Tuesday when it had to agree to give parliament a greater role in Brexit negotiations to avert a defeat at the hands of rebels from her own party who want to keep close European Union ties after Britain leaves the bloc in March next year.

Former Attorney-general Dominic Grieve, a leading pro-E.U. rebel, has put down a compromise amendment on the meaningful vote, calling for a binding motion to be passed by the Commons setting out how to proceed in the event of a "no deal" Brexit. The House of Lords has inserted 15 amendments to soften the terms of Britain's departure.

She has previously spoken of the threats she faced for challenging the government, and revealed that one colleague would not be voting as they wished this week for fear of reprisals.

David Davis has written to Tory MPs urging them to unite behind Theresa May in today's crucial vote in the Commons.

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

But the cabinet's anxiety about the nail-biting parliamentary arithmetic increased significantly after the resignation of Bracknell MP Phillip Lee, who left his post on Tuesday morning to free his hand to vote against the government.

A file photograph of justice minister Phillip Lees.

She said unless there was a "meaningful vote" Parliament would be left with "the grim choice between a poor deal and exit with no deal at all".

The change reduces the likelihood that Britain could leave the European Union without a deal if it does not like the divorce terms. An agreement on the Irish border must be reached if there's going to be an overall Brexit deal before the United Kingdom leaves the bloc in March.

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Details of the government's commitment will have to be formalised next week in a new amendment to the bill.

May had earlier warned that defeat would weaken her hand in exit talks, while a string of eurosceptic MPs stood up to accuse the rebels of trying to thwart Brexit.

Dr Lee said his main objection to Government policy was over the "wish to limit Parliament's role in contributing to the final outcome" and signalled he would rebel on the issue in the Commons later.

This change sought to give greater powers to the "sifting committee", which would be established to decide whether recommendations proposed by ministers to amend retained European Union law after Brexit would require a Commons vote.

Brexit protesters outside Parliament House.

A paper laying out the UK government position, due to be published this month, has been delayed because the Cabinet can not agree on a united stance.

The Sun had a frontpage of British icons including Stonehenge, a fish and chip shop, a London bus and a football, saying "Great Britain or Great Betrayal". The Daily Express thundered: "Ignore the will of the people at your peril".

'They want us to deliver on Brexit and build a brighter future for Britain as we take back control of our money, our laws and our borders'.

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