British MPs Vote Down Amendment to Veto Brexit Deal

The lesson of today's government climbdown: we're likely heading for soft Brexit

Scottish Secretary David Mundell hit out at the nationalists for "constitutional posturing", saying it was "quite clear that it was never going to be possible to get agreed amendments because quite simply the Scottish Government, the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon have a different view of the constitution from everybody else".

But Brexit campaigners feared it could weaken Britain's negotiating stance in talks to leave the European Union and the Brexit ministry was quick to put out a statement saying: "We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the government's hands in the negotiation". And around 15-20 pro-EU Tories are understood to have received assurances in a face-to-face discussion with the Prime Minister in her Commons office ahead of the vote. 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.

Mrs May was responding to a question from Conservative arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said it was vital that any amendment preserved the separation between the roles of Government and Parliament.

With a deal on the customs union already in the bag, all eyes are on the meaningful vote amendment.

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Specifically, government ministers must not act in any way which would cause "physical infrastructure" or any kind of "checks and controls" on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Downing Street says it does not expect to use the proposals because it will come up with workable new customs proposals before December 2020, but it is yet to indicate how those arrangements would work.

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.

Public policy expert Richard Bull of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said, however, that the MPs would have another opportunity to defeat the government if the promised concessions did not materialise.

Potential rebels fell into line after Mr Buckland said ministers were ready to "engage positively" with their concerns before the Bill returns to the Upper House next Monday.

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Tory MP Mr Grieve later confirmed he would rebel against the Government by supporting the Lords EEA amendment, telling the Commons: "There becomes a point when you have to stand up and be counted, and if it's not this week it has to be next week".

To make matters worse, the justice minister, Philip Lee, resigned just hours before the start of the debate in protest at his own government's position on Brexit.

The Prime Minister has sought to reassure Brexit supporters that the concessions do not amount to handing the Remainer-dominated Parliament an effective veto over the Brexit deal - or Brexit itself.

The fall-out from Tuesday's vote, which the government won to wipe out a change that could have given parliament the power to force ministers back to the negotiating table, looked set to all but overshadow Wednesday's votes.

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A Brexit department spokesman said Tuesday, "We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the government's hands in the negotiation".

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