May offers pro-EU rebels Brexit compromise

Sergio Conner
June 19, 2018

An hour before the vote, the government's solicitor general, Robert Buckland, promised lawmaker Dominic Grieve talks on increasing the powers of parliament if May was unable to reach agreement in Brussels.

Crucially, the motion will be unamendable, meaning MPs can not insert a requirement for Mrs May to go back to the negotiating table, extend the Brexit transition or revoke the UK's withdrawal under Article 50.

After the vote, a Brexit department spokesman said: "We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the government's hands in the negotiation".

Mr Grieve indicated that the final text of the amendment tabled in the House of Lords at the last possible moment on Thursday had been changed from the wording which he believed had been agreed earlier in the day.

She convinced Tory Remainers not to go ahead with a bid to bolster the "meaningful vote" on Tuesday by telling them she would find a compromise way forward.

Brexit supporters on the 1922 Committee - made up of Tory MPs who do not hold Government positions - were swift to react once the implications of these concessions became clear, with one senior Leaver remarking: "If Theresa and [Chief Whip Julian Smith] have sold us out here they are in real trouble".

Now Conservative peer Viscount Hailsham has re-tabled Mr Grieve's amendment in the House of Lords, setting the scene for a fresh Government defeat when the Bill returns to the Second Chamber on Monday.

That was the frank message from Tory MP Mike Wood, who has warned his fellow politicians that people are sick and exhausted of them bickering amongst themselves over the UK's departure from the EU.

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After an ill-judged election past year, May relies on the help of a deal with a small Northern Irish party to win votes in the Commons and can afford to lose no more than a handful of Conservative rebels if she is to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

"The motion is unamendable and that means that it is just a motion to take note and it is contrary to the normal procedures of the House of Commons and it is a mistake", he said, adding that he would try to persuade the government to change its mind.

"It all changed without Dominic Grieve or anyone else being consulted".

"This amendment I guess may be amended and if that is acceptable I will support that but fundamentally I resigned to support parliament getting a proper truly meaningful vote on the deal to leave the European Union".

"Would be amusing if only it wasn't such a serious issue".

Mr Grieve insisted rebels would only accept a "meaningful vote" and not the "slavery clause" the Government was offering.

Labour's Brexit policy chief, Keir Starmer, said May had been forced to avoid a "humiliating defeat" and "to enter negotiations with her backbenchers".

Leading pro-EU Conservative Dominic Grieve said the compromise "cannot be accepted". It was clear she couldn't keep both promises - we are now finding out which lie she was telling.

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