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British PM beats further challenges to critical Brexit bill
14 June 2018, 09:32 | Erica Roy
UK: May Avoids Defeat After Offering Rebels Concession On 'No Deal' Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May looked set to avoid an embarrassing defeat in parliament on Wednesday over her post-Brexit trade plans, a day after she defused a rebellion in her party over control of Britain's departure from the EU. It was indicated to us that the first two parts of the Grieve amendment presented very few problems and could be incorporated into a government amendment.
On Sunday she penned a column in The Sunday Times newspaper saying she had proposed different options for a new customs arrangement with the European Union and that the government would continue to work on them during the negotiations.
Before the vote, May held talks with more than 14 Tory rebels in her Commons office that lasted 11 hours, giving them personal assurances that she would agree to the broad thrust of their proposals. 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.
"For all the excitement generated by yesterday's parliamentary manoeuvres, the gap between the government and the pro-'Remain" Conservative Party backbenchers on the issue of a "meaningful vote' is not vast", he said.
"The British people voted to leave the European Union, and as prime minister I am determined to deliver that", May told parliament.
Shortly before 1.30pm on Tuesday, David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, opposed a House of Lords amendment in no uncertain terms.
On June 12 and 13, May's government won several votes on Brexit-related legislation in the House of Commons, but only after making concessions to rebel parliamentarians within her Conservative Party.
Maybe it was the moment when the former education secretary, Justine Greening, intervened on her former ministerial colleague, Dominic Grieve, that the government realised the game was up.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland said the government would remain open-minded, but the meeting may not result in new proposals in the coming days. They should find an agreement by the end of the week before the bill returns to the House of Lords.
Leading pro-EU Conservative Sarah Wollaston announced she would vote with the Government so long as a promised further amendment in the Lords "closely reflects" the Grieve proposals. "But if we face the prospect of a "meaningless process" rather than a "meaningful vote", Parliament will be enraged".
Mrs May said her approach would be guided by the principle that "the Government's hand in negotiations can not be tied by Parliament, but we need to be accountable to Parliament".
"A government amendment was passed requiring the negotiated withdrawal agreement to be approved by resolution in the House of Commons".
That amendment would have put lawmakers in the Brexit driver's seat, potentially allowing them to call for a second referendum if they rejected May's final deal with the EU.
Earlier May suffered a setback when junior justice minister Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of Brexit strategy, resigned and said he would vote against the government.
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