After compromise, Britain's May set to avoid parliament defeat on customs

15 June, 2018, 12:09 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • After battles with her Cabinet and Brussels Theresa May’s third front will be the House of Commons | Carl Court  Getty Images

The pro-European cause was boosted when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, a close personal friend of the prime minister, resigned shortly before the debate in order to back the veto amendment.

You only needed to look at the size of the amendment paper MPs had to consider to see how squeezed for time the debate was going to be.

"If the government can't get the most important treaty through Parliament we'll be looking for a new government", said Mr Tugendhat.

But just an hour before the vote, due at around 1500 GMT, the government sought to compromise with senior pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve, who had put forward his own amendment, which increased the risk of a government defeat.

An agreement that defused a potential rebellion over handing parliament more control over Britain's exit from the European Union looked in danger of unraveling on Wednesday, when the two camps argued over the shape of a possible compromise on a "meaningful vote".

"Now it's Labour's turn to show its dysfunction", said one Labour lawmaker.

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The government also won votes to overturn Lords amendments on issues such as environmental standards and the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. She said her committee had heard evidence about the measures other European Union member states were applying to introduce some control over migration, which she had been told could be a way of the United Kingdom having full single market access without free movement.

Mike Russell, the Scottish Government's Brexit minister, branded the UK Government a "travesty and a disgrace", asking "How can any meaningful negotiation take place after that?"

Instead, the majority of the pro-EU Tories backed the Government in voting down a Lords amendment to give them the power to tell ministers to go back to Brussels and renegotiate.

Pro-EU Tories have warned that they remain ready to rebel if their demands are not satisfied by the compromise amendment, before leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed their idea made a "no-deal Brexit" more likely.

On Wednesday, May had faced the prospect of losing a vote after rebels had indicated their support for a change introduced by the House of Lords to require ministers to report what efforts they had made to secure a customs union.

It was not as simple on Tuesday, when May was forced to blunt another rebellion in parliament by offering a compromise that could hand lawmakers more control over Brexit.

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Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the amendment was "not good enough".

In a few weeks, MPs will vote on another piece of Brexit-related legislation called the trade bill.

"We are asking members of parliament to abide by the referendum result, our manifesto commitment and to back our country", Andrew Bridgen, Conservative lawmaker and Brexit campaigner, told Reuters.

Phillip Lee accused the government of trying to limit parliament's role in shaping Britain's departure from the European Union and said the government's Brexit strategy was detrimental to the British people.

In a series of votes, the House of Commons largely reversed changes inserted by the House of Lords that would have softened the terms of Brexit.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is in a frantic search for the flawless compromise. She now relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party. Anti-Brexit MPs had argued that removing the no-deal effect was necessary for the vote to be a meaningful 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".

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