Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

UK's May defeats Brexit rebels, but divisions still reign

Theresa May Dominic Grieve GETTY PATheresa May faces a critical 24 hours after Lords backed the amendment tabled by Dominic Grieve
Andrew Cummings | 24 June, 2018, 21:20

"There is enough madness around at the moment to make one start to question whether collective sanity in this country has disappeared", said Grieve.

But Number 10 said ministers were confident of formulating a motion which John Bercow will rule is unamendable.

The leader of the pro-EU Tory rebels has denied the Government will fall if it suffers a defeat in the Commons on its flagship Brexit bill.

THIS WEEK'S demeaning scenes in Parliament over a Brexit vote reflect poorly on the arrogance of the Government's business managers and the resulting breakdown in trust.

The vote, due on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, could have implications for Britain's wider Brexit strategy, indicating where the power lies in parliament.

Worldwide trade secretary Liam Fox said nothing had really changed and the option of a no-deal Brexit had been left firmly on the table.

The British government has yet to decide on what it wants from the future economic relationship, but says it intends to pursue its own trade and customs policies.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom has criticised Labour for failing to make arrangements for an ill MP who was forced to come into the Commons in a wheelchair to vote on a Brexit Bill amendment.

The Tory government is so keen to avoid a humiliating defeat that its whips are refusing to help ill and hospitalised Labour MPs take part in the vote, according to various reports.

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However, although she has promised to give legislators a vote on the terms of the final Brexit agreement negotiated, May insists that, "Her offer to lawmakers, when it comes, will be to take it or leave it".

A victory for the pro-Europeans would embolden them ahead of debates next month on Britain's future trading relationship with the European Union, which they are seeking to keep as close as possible.

The government last week agreed to an amendment stating that if there is no deal by January 21 next year, ministers must put a statement to a vote in parliament.

"I believe our role now is to accept their view as expressed in a vote a few hours ago", she said.

Francis Elliot, the political editor of The Times, reported seeing a sick MP being helped out of a vehicle and into the Houses of Parliament in order to take part in the vote.

The Conservatives had refused to allow "pairing" - where two MPs on either side of the vote are allowed to miss it, cancelling each other out - even before suspending "nodding through".

"Over the next few weeks we will publish more details of our proposed future relationship with the European Union in a White Paper, and will bring the Trade and Customs Bills back to the House of Commons".

It also notes there is a parliamentary convention that time is made available to debate motions tabled by MPs on important issues. Other rebels have also reportedly, "called off the revolt", including former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan.

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