Remainers warn of future rebellion risk despite PM's Brexit concessions
- Author: Rogelio Becker Jun 15, 2018,
Jun 15, 2018, 1:34
In a battle of wills between the prime minister and the House of Commons on Tuesday, it was Theresa May who emerged weakened having been pushed into a series of significant concessions to anti-Brexit Conservative MPs in order to fend off a damaging parliamentary defeat.
The issue of a "meaningful vote" is set to be a flashpoint in the Commons, with ministers seeking to overturn a Lords amendment which would give Parliament extensive powers to direct ministers how to proceed if a deal with Brussels is rejected by MPs or no deal is reached.
However, May is anxious about the prospect of a rebellion by pro-EU Conservative MPs who are determined to retain as numerous changes as possible.
MPs yesterday continued discussing the Lords' amendments on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, with possible flashpoints on proposals to keep Britain closely aligned with the EU economy after Brexit.
Meanwhile, Remain-backing Labour MPs made passionate arguments for Britain to stay in the EEA, telling the Commons it would save the economy from Brexit.
But while Wednesday's votes seemed assured, May was under pressure over a promised compromise to quell a rebellion on Tuesday over handing parliament more say over any Brexit deal, with pro-EU lawmakers threatening to withdraw their support.
The House of Commons voted 325 to 298 on Wednesday to reject the proposed amendment by the House of Lords to the to the EU Withdrawal Bill that will sever legal ties with the EU.
The amendment is signed by 12 Conservatives.
The customs amendment would have forced May's government to take steps to keep Britain in a customs union with the European Union after Brexit.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is being finalised in parliament after more than 250 hours of debate.
The fall-out from Britain's referendum vote in 2016 to leave the European Union has reshaped politics, deepening divisions within its main parties and raising tensions between its four nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So the amendment doesn't look likely to pass.
Despite the defeats, MPs will debate the customs union and single market again in the coming weeks, when pro-European Conservatives are seeking to amend two other bills.
"It has got to be done in good faith, because without that, we will face a situation where in fact, firstly, the other place will put it back in and secondly the goodwill will be gone when it comes back to this house", leading rebel Dominic Grieve told lawmakers.
In the same session, Boris Johnson was seen smirking after Mr Corbyn suggested Donald Trump could do a better job at negotiating Brexit than Theresa May.
The amendment, in similar terms, calls for the government to join the European Free Trade Association - along with Norway - and maintain its membership of the European Economic Area.
"The truth is I'm really anxious for my constituents, really anxious for the direction of travel that we are taking generally: I respect the decision in the referendum but we are closing off options of how we conduct future relationships in ways which are utterly damaging to ourselves".
One called for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA), which offers tariff-free access to the EU's single market in return for accepting four key principles including free movement of people.
Mr Killen, who is the member of parliament for Hamilton and Rutherglen West, resigned from his position as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith.