How Theresa May saw off another Brexit rebellion

Posted June 24, 2018

PM Theresa May faces a showdown with rebels in her Conservative party after refusing to accept demands for parliament to have a "meaningful vote" on Brexit.

Before his about-turn, Grieve had argued that government promises did not hand parliament enough control to prevent the "chaos" that could follow Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal, and he had seemed to have won over several fellow Conservatives.

Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson came into parliament to vote even though she is several days past the date she was due to give birth.

The rebels sought to amend the flagship bill so they could send the government back to the negotiating table if they don't like the deal, or if talks with the European Union break down.

The government won by a narrow margin as MPs voted 319 to 303 against the amendment that was tabled by leading pro-EU Conservative Dominic Grieve.

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Mrs Leadsom said she was was "sorry" to see Labour's Naz Shah (Bradford West) being made to come to the House, but blamed the opposition for failing to sort out an arrangement in good time.

Since a majority of lawmakers favor retaining close ties with the bloc, that would reduce the chances of a "no deal" Brexit, a scenario favored by some euroskeptic members of Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative minority government.

Some of her opponents on Brexit may simply have chose to keep their powder dry for later fights on issues such as future trading ties with the bloc before Britain's scheduled departure in March next year.

Before the Commons vote, Dominic Grieve, leader of the would-be rebels - who wanted to ensure MPs had the power to stop the United Kingdom leaving without a deal - said the "sovereignty of Parliament" had been acknowledged.

This may be enough to persuade some rebels that their concerns have been addressed, though it is thought likely that ministers will be confident of being able to draft a motion which will be judged neutral by Mr Bercow if the need arises.

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Mr Grieve said that the Brexit Secretary's statement amounted to an "obvious acknowledgement of the sovereignty of this place over the executive in black and white language".

"We won't be accepting the Lords amendment", the source said, referring to a decision in the upper house of parliament on Monday to again try to force the government to hand the House of Commons more control over Britain's exit from the EU.

"They have confirmed this could be an amendable motion, with no further constraints on Parliament, giving Parliament a real say on the our country's future".

The government would have been defeated if a rebellion on that scale had materialised.

Lord Hailsham, who led the anti-government rebellion in the Lords described Brexit as a national calamity for Britain, adding that the government's offer failed to deliver a promised meaningful vote.

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Not so, insisted ardent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said all Mr Davis's note did was clarify what the Commons rules were; nothing more.