British PM avoids Brexit defeat in knife-edge parliament vote

May's fragile government will be trying to defeat a rebellion by pro-EU lawmakers and reverse changes to its key piece of Brexit legislation as the matter comes before the House of Commons.

Phillip Lee's resignation came hours before British Prime Minister Theresa May faces crunch votes in parliament and a potential showdown with pro-EU rebels in her ruling party.

Starmer's call comes as lawmakers are bracing for a fierce parliamentary debate over Britain's European Union divorce bill.

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".

The European Union Withdrawal Bill, a complex piece of legislation meant to disentangle Britain from four decades of EU rules and regulations, has had a rocky ride through Parliament.

May objected to the amendment - inserted by the House of Lords - because she said it would tie her hands in the negotiation.

Protesters outside the UK Parliament in central London.

"But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined".

"It's not practical, it's not desirable and it's not appropriate", Davis said.


But these putative pledges by the PM are inconsistent with Tuesday night's statement by Davis's officials that any new amendment relating to the power of MPs to accept or reject a Brexit deal must not restrict her negotiating freedom - or restrict her ability to sign whatever treaty with the European Union she would like.

Mr Grieve withdrew his own amendment, which would have given MPs powers to dictate what the Government should do if no acceptable agreement is reached by February 2019.

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.

A file photograph of justice minister Phillip Lees.

The concession means MPs could now be handed the power to seek to prevent Britain crashing out of the European Union without a Brexit deal.

Further clashes were expected on Wednesday during debate on amendments relating to how closely Britain stays aligned with the EU's economy after leaving.

The Government has avoided a major defeat on its Brexit Bill after a last-minute concession, Tory rebel Dominic Grieve explains just exactly what the concession was.

The new concession is likely to prove hugely controversial with Brexit-supporting MPs, some of whom have told BI that they intend to oust May if she "backslides" any more on Brexit. The Brexit Department said in a statement that it would look for compromise, but would not agree to lawmakers "binding the government's hands" in negotiations.

Dr Lee said his main objection to Government policy was over the "wish to limit Parliament's role in contributing to the final outcome" and signalled he would rebel on the issue in the Commons later. It also attacked the unelected nature of the House of Lords (which traditionally scrutinizes laws passed to it by the elected lower chamber), linking it to a perceived attempt to frustrate the Brexit process.

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