Brexit: MPs reject bid to stay in EEA amid Labour revolt

European Union     Source 1 NEWS

European Union Source 1 NEWS

Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed a compromise with pro-EU lawmakers in her Conservative Party that offer parliament a vote on future steps in Brexit talks if Britain fails to agree a deal by mid-February, a source said on Thursday.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mrs May said: "We have seen concerns raised about the role of Parliament in relation to the Brexit process".

The Lords amendment would have given parliament the power to decide what happened next, with the possibility of going back to the negotiating table or even staying in the bloc.

"I have agreed this morning with the Brexit Secretary that we will bring forward an amendment in the Lords".

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the government would amend the bill to address legislators' concerns, but added: "I can not countenance parliament being able to overturn the will of the British people".

He said the United Kingdom should "re-engage with our European and worldwide friends to talk about how to achieve the aims that we share for the future in ways that respect individual countries' interests and sovereignty", taking into account concerns expressed in other EU countries since the Brexit vote about the bloc's direction.

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Ms Allen said: "No Tory MP, not a single one, is trying to stop Brexit".

Several pro-EU lawmakers threatened to rebel over whether parliament should have more control over any final deal agreed with the European Union in Brussels.

A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: "The Brexit Secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet - not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of Parliament and Government in negotiating worldwide treaties, and respecting the referendum result".

Downing Street was tight-lipped on the details of the proposed amendment, which was the subject of behind-the-scenes discussions on Wednesday.

Leading rebel Dominic Grieve said he hoped a compromise would be found, but if not, "this isn't the end of the matter".

One government official said: "It's not over yet".

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Adding pressure on Theresa May's government, her junior Minister of Justice, Philip Lee, submitted his resignation, making clear that he was prepared to abstain rather than support his government's position against the amendment.

A wiser head than me - there's dispute over whether it was Mark Twain or Bismarck! - once remarked that laws are like sausages, if you respect them it's best not to watch them being made. This is where Conservative rebels like Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Ken Clark are expected to make their biggest move on customs. I have always said as an MP I will put the interests of my constituents first and I believe that means voting to maintain the closest possible relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

Remainer Stephen Hammond said a group of potential rebels - believed to number 15 to 20 - received assurances from the PM moments before the key vote.

But he told Sky News: "If those amendments don't come forward, I and a number of others will consider voting against the Government".

If MPs reject the agreement reached by Mrs May with Brussels - or if no deal has been obtained by January 21 - Parliament will be offered the opportunity only to vote on a "neutral motion" stating that it has considered a minister's statement on the issue.

"I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill".

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The government won the EEA/single market amendment with a majority of 201, and the customs union amendment with a majority of 28.

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