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Government avoids defeat on Brexit bill

Government avoids defeat on Brexit bill”

Lawmakers kicked off two days of debate on Tuesday on changes to May's Brexit blueprint, or European Union withdrawal bill, after the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords, introduced 15 changes.

Conservative Remainer Anna Soubry and her colleague, Bernard Jenkin, a staunch Brexiteer, clashed on Twitter over what May had or had not promised regarding Grieve's compromise amendment. That has potentially seismic consequences for the protracted and increasingly messy split from Brussels.

The major last-minute concession by ministers means the government avoids defeat by 324 to 298.

"It not only has the risk of stopping Brexit, it's certainly going to make the negotiating position of the Government considerably diminished".

He also called for the Government's final proposals to be put to the public in a second referendum.

In a day of drama, May's position seemed suddenly weaker when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of Brexit strategy, resigned and said he would vote against the government.

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.

"And the thought of no deal absolutely terrifies us".

But while the well-worn arguments focusing on the nature of a meaningful vote were made, the real drama was taking place on the floor of the chamber where chief whip Julian Smith, solicitor general Robert Buckland and Brexit secretary David Davis as well as the Prime Minister's parliamentary private secretary (PPS) George Holingberry were in deep discussion with each other and Grieve, as they sought to avert an embarrassment for the government.

Labour MPs are expected to rebel against their party whip in significant numbers to vote in favour of a Lords amendment to keep the United Kingdom in a Norway-style trading arrangement post-Brexit.

The victory was the first major win in two days of debates on the government's European Union withdrawal bill, which will sever ties with the European Union, after the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords, introduced 15 changes.

MPs, ministers and officials all agreed Tuesday that a soft Brexit or even the prospect of no Brexit is greatly increased - so too the prospect of a snap early election before the end of the year.

"If we are heading for an impasse in November, everything is on the table".

In such an event, he said Parliament should be able to flex its muscles by requiring ministers to come forward with a plan of action, which MPs would be able to debate and vote on.

Lee's resignation came as May's fragile minority government scrambled to shore up support among lawmakers for two days of high-stakes debate and votes on its flagship Brexit bill in the House of Commons. "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.

Leading Conservative rebels welcomed the "important concessions" by the government, but insisted that ministers must follow through on their concession or face a defeat when the bill returns to the House of Commons later this month. They stood down after the government promised to engage in talks on a compromise.



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