May narrowly avoids Brexit bill defeat over 'meaningful vote'

Theresa May addresses the final news conference of the G7 summit in Quebec Canada

May narrowly avoids Brexit bill defeat over 'meaningful vote'

After months of debating the detail of the legislation that will trigger United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union, the House of Commons will stage crucial votes on Tuesday and Wednesday that will decide her fate.

Another would give Parliament the power to approve or deny the Brexit withdrawal agreement and transitional measures, preferably before the European Parliament debates and votes on it. If some of its leave-supporting lawmakers choose to vote against the amendment, the government could avoid defeat altogether.

But they face a revolt by pro-EU Tory MPs determined to retain as numerous changes as possible in the legislation.

MPs voted by 324 votes to 298 to back the government in rejecting an amendment passed by peers that would strengthen the hand of the Commons in the event of it rejecting the final Brexit deal.

Today the government avoided an embarrassing defeat on a key Brexit vote by offering concessions to Remainer Tory MPs.

Five Labour MPs also rebelled by voting in favour of disagreeing with the Lords amendment: Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, John Mann and Graham Stringer.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston said on Monday morning she was "minded" to defy party orders and back the meaningful vote amendment.

She told BBC Radio 4's World At One that "at least half a dozen" junior ministers had been "very uncomfortable for some time" at the Government's direction on Brexit.

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"I am trying to negotiate the best deal for Britain", she said.

Rebel Conservative MPs who had threatened to vote against the government agreed to lend their numbers to overturn a House of Lords amendment giving parliament a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal after ministers agreed to address their concerns.

Labour MPs said they were confident the government would have been defeated if it had been pushed to the vote. If the government fails to pass the bill as it is, it will be forced to change what it asks for in negotiations with the European Union -undermining May's position and possibly threatening her job as Prime Minister.

The Daily Express, another pro-Brexit tabloid, issued a thinly-veiled threat to lawmakers, saying they should "Ignore the will of the people at [their] peril".

The Government is against the plan, believing it sends the wrong message to Brussels regarding the UK's negotiating goals.

'The objective of the EU Withdrawal Bill is simple - it is putting EU legislation into law to ensure a smooth and orderly transition as we leave, ' she is expected to tell them.

Theresa May saw off a revolt from the pro-European wing of her fractured party, averting what could have been a major political crisis.

"The people want us to leave the EU".

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