Government avoids defeat on Brexit bill

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

At stake is her Brexit strategy and her ability to hold her party together as she fights to deliver a Brexit divorce deal in the next 10 months.

The concession on a meaningful vote came after intensive horse-trading on the floor of the House of Commons, with chief whip Julian Smith shuttling between Tory backbenchers during debate on Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. "It is, however, irresponsible to proceed as we are".

Brexit Secretary David Davis urged MPs to "respect the result of the referendum" that approved the withdrawal.

The parts of his amendment which he expects to be taken forward by ministers provide a mechanism by which Parliament has to be consulted by the end of November in the event of no deal or if a proposed agreement is rejected, he said.

Remain-supporting Conservative MPs had threatened to defeat the government on an amendment to the bill which would have given Parliament a wide-ranging veto to May's Brexit deal, or even force a second referendum.

If we get into the position in November where there is not a deal that the House of Commons likes and it sets down motions for what the government must do, if it asks for things that the European Union then doesn't give, it will take too long for the government to be able to go back to parliament, back to the European Union to get a deal.

They've been battling against Brexit on a number of fronts, including trying to ensure that Scotland doesn't lose powers back to Westminster when they come back from Brussels.

The government says the changes would weaken Britain's negotiating position and is seeking to reverse them in the Commons.

Commenting after Tuesday's votes, Dr Lee said: "Delighted that the government has agreed to introduce an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which will give Parliament the voice I always wanted it to have in the Brexit process".

The amendment would effectively give MPs the power to prevent the United Kingdom from opting to crash out of the European Union without a Brexit deal and is a major victory for Remain-supporting MPs in parliament. "We have no doubt of what was going on".

He responded: "I think Dominic Grieve's amendment makes a no deal Brexit more, rather than less, likely".

Dismissing the Government's compromise, she tweeted: "Merely issuing a statement in response would make it a meaningless final vote".

A dispute quickly arose about the third clause of Grieve's amendment, with Brexiters, including some ministers, quickly saying all that had been agreed was talks - and no government could agree to be "directed" by MPs.

It would also give hard Brexiteers the chance to "scupper a good deal", she claimed.

One of the key points of difference between the Prime Minister and the rebels is a Lords amendment which states the Government must seek to negotiate a customs union with the EU.

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