Minister resigns over Brexit ahead of crucial vote in UK

Erika Holt
June 13, 2018

Theresa May has narrowly avoided a humiliating defeat over the Brexit bill after Conservative rebels accepted significant concessions from the government on the "meaningful vote" when it returns to the House of Lords next week.

In the months that followed, May struggled to assert her authority over her party and government, with a string of ministers resigning from the Cabinet and disunity over Brexit among those who remained around her top table.

They also voted to disagree with Lords amendment 37, which was part of an attempt to remove the exit day from the Bill and allow the Commons to rethink its approach.

In a concession, the government promised that lawmakers would have a say on what to do next if there is no agreement with the European Union, or if Parliament rejects the deal offered.

"I am trying to negotiate the best deal for Britain". The House of Lords has inserted 15 amendments to soften the terms of Britain's departure.

But the latest manoeuvre by a minority government that has been forced to compromise with parliament anxious some lawmakers who feared it would hand the European Union an incentive to withhold any agreement on an exit deal to force a softer Brexit. That clause - drafted by Grieve - basically hands a lot of power to Parliament if no deal has been agreed by the end of November.

They did so by offering a concession to Tory backbenchers.

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However, ministers made a last minute offer to enter talks about accepting the bulk of an alternative rebel amendment which would give MPs more limited powers to prevent Britain from crashing out of the European Union without a deal.

They are most anxious about a vote on Wednesday requiring the government to make a statement on its efforts to negotiate a customs union with the EU. "It's miserable", one complained on the way out of the chamber. He said that while he was sad to leave the government, he believed many big changes were needed to make the U.K.'s exit a success.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, June 12, 2018. "But where amendments have been made that seek to or inadvertently undermine the essential goal of the bill to provide a smooth and orderly exit, or undermine the referendum result, we must reject them".

It is thought that both the government and the Remainer group of Tory MPs consider the outcome to be a success. In between discussions, he spoke to ministers on the front benches, including May, scribbling notes on a Commons paper.

The solicitor general, Robert Buckland, said after the meeting: "We all hang together or we will hang separately".

Will that knowledge mean a softer Brexit strategy will now emerge? Grieve suggested that would not be enough to prevent a rebellion. Several MPs were ushered out for further talks by the Chief Whip, Julian Smith.

Earlier, most of the original 11 rebels on the meaningful vote amendment had indicated that they would stand firm. Brexit supporters will be watching closely to see what concessions the government finally offers to the rebels.

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