Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Labour MPs' rebellion in Brexit Bill vote causes headache for Jeremy Corbyn

Ken Clarke recently a favourite of liberal Remainers but long a Conservative minister Ken Clarke
Lisa Bryan | 22 June, 2018, 12:33

MPs are set to stage an audacious power grab on Tuesday which could completely change the Government's Brexit strategy.

It followed a meeting of the backbench 1922 committee this evening ahead of a series of crunch Commons votes in which Mrs May told MPs to consider the signal that would be sent to Brussels if the government was defeated.

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".

The government agreed to discuss elements of a rebel plan to create new checks and balances on the Brexit deal, and where possible incorporate them into the laws that will formally end Britain's European Union membership.

Supporters of this policy argue it would protect British jobs and go some way to preserving the invisible Irish border, while detractors point out it would prevent Britain from signing its own trade deals after it has left the EU.

The development led to a furious spat on Twitter between two senior Tories from either side of the Brexit divide, with Leave-backing Sir Bernard Jenkin insisting there was "only agreement for discussions, not concessions", while pro-EU Anna Soubry retorted: "Bernard you weren't there and I was".

However, pro-EU Tory rebels believe they could be vulnerable on key measures including the customs union and a requirement for Parliament to have a decisive say over what happens next if it rejects a final Brexit deal.

They said: "We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the government's hands in the negotiations".

He said: "I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill".

However, her concession to "seek to negotiate" a "customs arrangement" with the European Union was enough to placate Conservative MPs who were threatening to rebel. It contains the caveat that MPs can examine changes in smaller groups - meaning they won't be held up by scrutiny in the Commons chamber.


May said the government would amend the bill to address legislators' concerns, but warned that "I can not countenance Parliament being able to overturn the will of the British people".

The former attorney general told Press Association: "The Prime Minister agreed that the amendments we had tabled, and the issue that we had raised about Parliament's role in the event of no deal was an important one, and undertook to work with us to put together amendments to present in the Lords which would address those concerns".

Passing the amendment would mean a major shift away from the UK's existing constitutional settlement - which gives the executive powers to negotiate treaties.

"I have a problem both constitutionally and politically with a direction given by parliament, which is the end part of Dominic Grieve's amendment", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Citizens would be able to challenge any domestic laws introduced if it seriously went against the European Union laws copied over after Brexit.

One of the biggest changes to the Bill, and would have a dramatic impact on Brexit.

"Of course, the Lords has a revising role to play - but some of the amendments that were passed and the comments that were made went far beyond that".

Theresa May would have to get approval from Parliament before beginning negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Just hours before the vote, the pressure on May cranked up when a pro-EU junior minister quit the government so he could back the veto proposal.

Details of the government's commitment will have to be formalized next week in a new amendment to the bill.

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