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Government avoids EU Withdrawal Bill defeat after last-ditch deal on 'meaningful vote'

Government avoids EU Withdrawal Bill defeat after last-ditch deal on 'meaningful vote'

I have to say I do feel a bit uneasy about what deal they have got because they seem very pleased with themselves.

Facing the prospect of losing a vote on a crucial amendment to the government's flagship Brexit legislation - which was created to empower parliament to vote down the final deal without risking a "no-deal" exit from the bloc - ministers intervened with a concession at the 11th hour even as MPs were wrapping up debate on the controversial measure.

But Solicitor General Robert Buckland publicly implied that Government would be accepting part of Grieve's amendment, and said that a "structured discussion" would take place with rebels. Mr Grieve's proposal will now be added to the legislation.

Government sources signalled to the Press Association that ministers were set to back the move.

In a day of drama, May's position seemed suddenly weaker when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of the government's Brexit strategy, resigned and said he would vote against the government.

"In all conscience, I can not support the Government's decision to oppose this amendment because doing so breaches such fundamental principles of human rights and Parliamentary sovereignty".

MPs would then be permitted to vote on the final Brexit deal, igniting fear in Brexiteer MPs, as parliament could also halt the Brexit process entirely.

Opening debate on the flagship EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Commons, Mr Davis warned that the "cumulative effect" of a series of Lords amendments would "make it impossible to deliver the smooth and orderly exit we want".

It is thought that both the government and the Remainer group of Tory MPs consider the outcome to be a success.

Davis on Tuesday told the BBC, "that was the decision of the British people. and whatever we do, we're not going to reverse that".

"First, we must never do anything that undermines the Government's negotiating position or encourages delays in the negotiations", Mr Davis said.

The amendment would effectively give MPs the power to prevent the United Kingdom from opting to crash out of the European Union without a Brexit deal and is a major victory for Remain-supporting MPs in parliament.

Dr Lee handed in his resignation just hours before Mrs May faces a House of Commons battle to pass legislation that will allow her to proceed with Brexit.

But her concession to parliament means that lawmakers now have more power if she fails to secure a Brexit deal, which may lead to a softer approach to Britain's divorce.

Following the vote, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "Facing the prospect of a humiliating defeat Theresa May has been forced to enter negotiations with her backbenchers and offer a so-called concession".

Theresa May escaped a crunch vote bruised but not beaten tonight as backbench MPs flexed their muscles over the EU Withdrawal Bill.

"We will wait and see the details of this concession and will hold ministers to account to ensure it lives up to the promises they have made to Parliament".

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