After compromise, Britain's May set to avoid parliament defeat on customs

Dr Phillip Lee

Sources close to Dr Lee said his resignation had been a "warning shot" to the government and that more departures would come if Mrs May had not made further concessions on her plans for a so-called "meaningful vote" and customs arrangements by the time two more Brexit Bills are debated next month. The strained parliament session underlined deep divisions over Britain's European Union exit.

The government last night gave into rebel demands to hand MPs an effective veto on May's Brexit deal.

Frank Field, a veteran lawmaker from the northwest of England, was his first victim after suggesting the point of the amendment Pennycook was backing was to stop Brexit, then Gareth Snell, who represents Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands, got the same treatment for making a similar point.

Some lawmakers tried to shout him down and accused the government of wanting too much power.

The fall-out from Tuesday's vote, which the government won to wipe out a Lords amendment that could have given parliament the power to force ministers back to the negotiating table, looked set to all but overshadow Wednesday's votes.

Tuesday's Commons debate marked the start of the government's attempts to undo most of the changes to its EU Withdrawal Bill that were put forward by the House of Lords.

He added that Britain has to "accept the consequences" of its June 2016 referendum to leave the EU. The Lords themselves would get chance to consider a motion, but that wouldn't mean a binding "yes" or "no" vote for them.

And as May and her government have repeatedly ruled out doing anything which would threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom, then it is hard to see how this won't point towards Britain accepting anything but the softest of soft Brexits.

"She said that anything which undermines the government at home would make the negotiations with the European Union more hard".

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May also pledged, the rebels said, to consider the third section of the amendment, which would prevent a no deal Brexit by putting Parliament in charge if no agreement is reached with the European Union by 15 February next year.

Or as some nervous Conservative Brexiteers are now calling it - "a Brexit in name only".

Brexit secretary David Davis urged lawmakers to "respect the result of the referendum" that approved the withdrawal. "Putting a decision off doesn't make it any easier".

It is these 15 changes that MPs will vote on this week - either keeping the Lords amendments, which would endanger May's government, or overturning them in favor of the Prime Minister.

Rebels have said they will challenge May's plans to leave the customs union with the EU during votes on other bills that will be brought back to the house some time before July 24.

"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".

It has also intensified pressure on a prime minister who lost her party's parliamentary majority at an ill-judged election past year and tested her already weakened authority.

Mrs May, who leads a minority government propped up by the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, conceded yesterday that "we need parliamentary support" to implement Brexit.

But this happened only after May's government promised lawmakers that Parliament would receive more oversight of Brexit. Yes, it's a significant compromise but we live to fight another day.

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