Theresa May's meaningful vote compromise rejected by rebel MPs

Ministers have so far agreed to give parliament a symbolic vote on the government's strategy if its initial exit deal is rejected, but not to give parliament the power to force changes to its plan.

Tory rebels against Theresa May's Brexit plans could ultimately collapse the government, Dominic Grieve has said, ahead of another key week in parliament over the European Union withdrawal bill.

Crucially, the motion will be unamendable, meaning that 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.

Remainer, Anna Soubry MP, who joined Ken Clarke MP as the only two Tories to vote against the government on Tuesday's vote, accused the Prime Minister of "siding with the hard Brexiteers" in the Conservatives, saying that colleagues who had agreed to the compromise would now feel "badly let down".

Bill returning to the House of Lords on Monday, peers looked ready to launch a fresh round of parliamentary "ping pong" and send amendments back to the Commons which Mrs May has said would tie her hands in negotiations with Brussels. Grieve said. "I'd urge (Brexit minister) David Davis".

However, the Grieve amendment was not put to a vote on Tuesday, after would-be rebels accepted "personal assurances" from the PM that a compromise would be found.

But, the pro-EU MPs' version of what they were promised appears to differ from what they government says it offered, threatening to reignite the dispute and reviving the possibility of a revolt that would badly damage May's authority.

Facing claims of betrayal by some pro-EU colleagues, Mrs May insisted that she and her Cabinet colleagues recognised the concerns some people had about the role of Parliament in the Brexit process but she made clear she would not budge on the primacy of Government in the talks with Brussels, saying: "Parliament can not tie the hands of Government in negotiations".

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.

May today said: "I listened to their concerns and I undertook to listen to their concerns".

The rebels were angered after the government amendment offered parliament the opportunity only to vote on a "neutral motion" stating that it has considered a minister's statement on the issue, if a deal is rejected.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "The Government's amendment is simply not good enough".

In a tense atmosphere where it was not clear which way the vote would go, the government secured its victory only after offering concessions to one of the leaders of a group of Conservative lawmakers who were threatening to vote against May.

"If the government can't get the most important treaty through Parliament we'll be looking for a new government", said Mr Tugendhat.

"Having reneged on a promise made to her own colleagues, it is clear she can not be trusted".

  • Rogelio Becker