Brexit 'meaningful vote' rejected as PM strikes deal with Tory rebels

Theresa May

Theresa May

Davis said this was a "no Brexit amendment" that amounted to "an unconstitutional shift that risks undermining our negotiations with the European Union".

May urged Conservative lawmakers to back the government and show "that we are united as a party in our determination to deliver on the decision made by the British people".

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. But Britain's second, unelected, lawmaking chamber attached various amendments, including one of a "meaningful parliamentary vote" on the deal.

In a highly charged atmosphere in parliament, lawmakers who oppose the government said they had received death threats and brandished a copy of one of Britain's tabloid newspapers, the Daily Express, which ran a headline saying: "Ignore the will of the people at your peril".

Meanwhile, Scottish National Party (SNP) politicians continued their attack Thursday on Westminster following the two-day Brexit bill debate which denied them the opportunity to discuss the impact of a Brexit deal on the devolved Scottish Parliament.

Mrs May was responding to a question from Conservative arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said it was vital that any amendment preserved the separation between the roles of Government and Parliament. "It enables parliament to dictate to the government their course of action in worldwide negotiations".

MPs voted by 324 votes to 298 to rejecting an amendment passed by the House of Lords in April that would strengthen the hand of the Commons in the event of it rejecting the final Brexit deal.

With not all rebels persuaded that May's plan can prevent an economic shock after Brexit, some say they will challenge her plans to leave the customs union again during votes on other bills, on trade and customs, which will be brought back to the house some time before July 24.

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May had faced the prospect of losing the vote on the customs union 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. Should lawmakers prevail, the direction of Brexit could change.

Brexit has also complicated relations between the British government and Scotland, where a majority voted in 2016 to stay in the EU.

Labour split three ways as the Commons debated a Lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill calling for EEA membership to remain on the negotiating table.

May yesterday avoided a Commons defeat on the government's key Brexit legislation after holding meetings with more than a dozen Tory backbenchers who were prepared to vote against the government by backing a House of Lords amendment on a so-called "meaningful vote" on the exit terms.

Another flashpoint could come when lawmakers vote Wednesday on an amendment seeking to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU.

After a spokesman for Mrs May sowed confusion over what potential rebels had been offered, the prime minister was hit by calls from pro-EU Conservatives not to backtrack on her promises.

Anti-Brexit Labour MP Chuka Umunna described the "climb-down on giving Parliament a meaningful vote" as "significant". Part C would give parliament the power to issue direct orders to the government if no deal was in place by 15 February 2019.

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