United Kingdom justice minister resigns ahead of key Brexit debate

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A junior minister in the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May resigned on Tuesday ahead of a crucial vote that could decide the future of Brexit-and perhaps the Prime Minister herself.

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.

"It is a barely-disguised attempt to say to the 17.4 million, to those 66 percent of constituencies across the country that 'you were wrong, you little people didn't know what you were doing, and we know best'". It also increases the prospect of MPs forcing a referendum on the terms of the eventual deal or even of a snap election before the end of the year.

A section of Labour MPs are expected to defy the official party position and vote in favor of a Lords amendment to keep the United Kingdom in a Norway-style trading arrangement, better known as the European Economic Area (EEA), post-Brexit.

The battle now moves to the House of Lords, where the government will formally reveal how much it has conceded in the wording of a new amendment expected on Monday or Tuesday.

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said that the only reason May's government had decided on a climb down was because 'they thought they were going to lose the vote'.

Yet this week's marathon Brexit debate have Labour members of Parliament concerned about their Brexit-voting electorates - and pro-European lawmakers frustrated by Corbyn's euroskeptic history - airing frustrations in full view.

It will be the first major test after the upper house, the House of Lords, introduced 15 major changes to her Brexit blueprint, the EU Withdrawal Bill, including that on the "meaningful vote".

Opening the debate, Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted the government would abide by three principles to defend the will of the British people.

Pledging to support Mr Corbyn from the backbenches, she said on Twitter she could not vote for anything "that does not deliver the exit from the European Union that my constituents voted for".


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

Another flashpoint could come when lawmakers vote Wednesday on an amendment seeking to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU.

Britain's highest-selling tabloid, The Sun, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, addressed lawmakers directly on its front page, saying they faced a choice between "Great Britain or Great Betrayal". The Daily Express featured the British flag as its front page with the headline: "Ignore the will of the people at your peril".

A file photograph of justice minister Phillip Lees.

"I am confident I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the European Union which is as frictionless as possible", she said.

"If we don't achieve a deal at all, the fact is we are going to be facing an enormous crisis", he told MPs.

Meanwhile, the remain-supporting Conservatives are increasingly divided over whether to follow a similar path, although the threat of rebellion from a minority contingent of Brexit-supporting MPs within the party has so-far prevented government from making an overt commitment to a change of policy.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, and the bloc is frustrated with what it sees as a lack of firm proposals from the U.K about future relations.

A paper laying out the U.K. government position, due to be published this month, has been delayed because the Cabinet can not agree on a united stance.

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