The House of Commons voted 324 to 298 to defeat an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which would have removed her government’s power to unilaterally walk away from talks with Brussels.
The fall-out from Tuesday’s vote, which the government won to wipe out a change that could have given parliament the power to force ministers back to the negotiating table, looked set to all but overshadow Wednesday’s votes.
The government won all 11 votes in the House of Commons yesterday, on topics including the use of “Henry VIII” powers to make changes to domestic legislation after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union by way of regulations and one whether the date of departure should be given statutory effect.
Brexit backers see this clause as weakening the government’s negotiating position, as they want May to be able to threaten to walk away.
Since there is certainly no majority among MPs for no deal – which all but a hard core of Brexit ultras believe would be disastrous – that now makes no deal extremely unlikely.
He said a concession of this kind would been “revolutionary” as the Commons can not override the government when it came to negotiating global treaties.
It emerged last night – after much horse-trading around Westminster – that the government would accept parts A and B of Grieve’s amendments.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland promised to work on the proposal taking into account concerns raised by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, a leading pro-European rebel.
Pro-EU lawmakers, however, welcomed it as a signal that the government was moving towards ruling out a hardline “no deal” Brexit. By 2pm the only speeches had been from the two main frontbench spokesmen (Brexit minister, David Davis, and Labour’s Matthew Pennycook).
It’s highly likely that the lords will either reinstate their original amendment (or the Grieve version of their amendment), so we can expect many more conversations like this happening behind closed doors in the days to come.
‘But we are not voting with the government on this amendment because the Conservatives offer no plan for securing the full tariff free access to the EU’s internal market, which is so vital for jobs and living standards in our country.
After winning Tuesday’s vote on changes to a future “meaningful vote” on a final agreement with Brussels in her European Union withdrawal bill, May’s plans to end more than 40 years of membership in the bloc were still on track.
Tory MPs are to discuss with ministers what will happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit – amid calls for Theresa May to honour “assurances” to them. But for now, the government seems to have prevented an embarrassing defeat, and the Tory rebels have avoided the unpleasantness of colluding in the defeat of their Prime Minister.
It also imperils the now invisible border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member. The Lords themselves would get chance to consider a motion, but that wouldn’t mean a binding “yes” or “no” vote for them.
“The Government’s amendment today provides for a meaningful vote”.
A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: “The Brexit Secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet – not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of Parliament and Government in negotiating worldwide treaties, and respecting the referendum result”.