Brexit law faces crucial Commons vote

Brexit law faces crucial Commons vote

Amendment 19 would enhance the powers of parliament in the Brexit process by making a Commons vote on the final withdrawal terms a "meaningful vote".

That is when Theresa May reportedly gave 15-20 Conservative "rebels" assurances that the government would accept the general meaning of Dominic Grieve's alternative amendment.

Lawmakers kicked off two days of debate on Tuesday on changes to May's Brexit blueprint, or European Union withdrawal bill, after the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords, introduced 15 changes.

Clause C is aimed at allowing MPs to give "direction" to the government in the event of no Brexit deal having been reached by mid-February 2019, but Downing Street has signalled it is "not up for discussion".

The Lords amendment would have given parliament the power to decide what happened next, with the possibility of going back to the negotiating table or even staying in the bloc.

Earlier, a junior minister resigned to fight for a "meaningful vote" for MPs, saying the government was offering a "fake choice" between "a bad deal and no deal".

MPs will hold further votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill on Wednesday, including a House of Lords demand for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU's single market.

Mrs May is now expected to get through the remaining Brexit votes unscathed, with a potentially explosive clash over the customs union already defused.

Bill revokes the 1972 Act which took the United Kingdom into the European Economic Area, but also transposes all relevant EU law into British statute so there are no holes in the law book at the point of Brexit. But she faces a gruelling bout of "parliamentary ping-pong" with the Lords, as the Bill bounces back and forth in the coming weeks.

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Despite many Conservative MPs who backed Remain in the referendum, just two rebelled against the government on a meaningful vote. It was sealed at a private meeting between May and potential rebels.

Lawmakers will vote on Wednesday on whether to dismiss a plan proposed by the upper chamber of parliament which would require ministers to report what efforts they had made to secure a customs union with the EU by the end of October.

Some Europhile Tories may hold back from rebelling to avoid destabilising her and risking handing the leadership to a hardline Brexiteer.

But the resignation by Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of the government's Brexit strategy, underlined the deep rifts in the party over Brexit that makes such votes anything but easy.

"If we don't achieve a deal at all, the fact is we are going to be facing an huge crisis", he told MPs. I have to say I do feel a bit uneasy about what deal they have got because they seem very pleased with themselves.

Brexit Secretary David Davis warned Conservative rebels that they should not use this week's votes to try to "reverse the decision of the referendum". "We will have to go away, think about it and come back and make a statement".

The government has avoided a major defeat on its Brexit bill by 324 votes to 298 after a late concession.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "As has become a tradition in Brexit negotiations, the Tories have been forced to cobble together a compromise".

The amendment in question hinges on whether lawmakers will get a "meaningful" vote on Britain's membership of the European Union.

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