Theresa May’s frantic search for the ideal Brexit compromise

Lester Mason
June 14, 2018

In practice, the amendment would give MPs and Lords the power to decide what happens should they decide to reject the Brexit deal May hopes to bring back from Brussels later this year.

But Brexit campaigners feared it could weaken Britain's negotiating stance in talks to leave the European Union and the Brexit ministry was quick to put out a statement saying: "We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the government's hands in the negotiation".

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

The government averted a rebellion on Tuesday over whether Parliament should have a decisive say in such a scenario. The increasingly febrile atmosphere comes as pressure builds for a deal by October ahead of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union in March next year. The government says the changes would weaken Britain's negotiating position and is seeking to reverse them in the Commons.

But the cabinet's anxiety about the nail-biting parliamentary arithmetic increased significantly after the resignation of Bracknell MP Phillip Lee, who left his post on Tuesday morning to free his hand to vote against the government.

Six Labour MPs resigned from senior roles in the party to defy Jeremy Corbyn on the single market vote, illustrating how it isn't just the Conservatives that are split over the Brexit question. Just hours earlier, Downing Street had signalled the prime minister had no intention of accepting Grieve's compromise amendment to the European Union withdrawal bill, tabled by the former attorney general and aimed at ensuring ministers can't "crash out of the European Union by ministerial fiat", as he called it. She tore into the deep division and animosity which she warned is tearing her party, and the country, apart. Ministers originally wanted to make this a vote to either accept the deal or to leave without a deal.

Heidi Allen was one of the 14 Tory rebels who struck a deal with the Prime Minister last night in order to back the EU Withdrawal Bill in parliament last night.


"We must under all circumstances respect the result of the referendum", Brexit Secretary David Davis told lawmakers as he opened the debate.

As I write the full terms of the deal have yet to be revealed, but there is briefing ministers have conceded that a motion, which could be amended, would be put before MPs, in event a final divorce deal is voted down. The Lords' amendment, which MPs rejected, went further in requiring the withdrawal agreement to be placed on a statutory footing. But how much of the proposed amendment has actually been accepted by the government?

The vote is being sold as a victory for Grieve and his band of Tory rebels.

Conservative lawmaker Phillip Lee, who had voted to remain in the European Union, resigned as the justice minister so he could speak out against the policy on Brexit.

The EU is expecting her to have made progress by a summit in June and both sides want to reach a deal by October.

Arch Remainer Anna Soubry tweeted: "For the avoidance of doubt the PM said yesterday that clause c of Dominic Grieves amendment would be discussed as part of the new amendment to be tabled in the Lords".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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