Tory rebellion back on after MPs reject May’s compromise
News | 14.06.2018
LONDON — A leading Conservative has rejected a proposed compromise to Brexit legislation put forward by Theresa May in an attempt to avoid a rebellion by some of her own MPs.
Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who has led talks with ministers on behalf of the rebels over the wording of a key change to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, said he thought he had reached an agreement on Thursday lunchtime only for the government to change the text “at the last minute.”
The dispute between the government and a group of soft Brexit Tories centers around a “meaningful vote” on any eventual deal negotiated with Brussels, designed to enable MPs to vote down the final agreement without risking leaving the EU with no deal at all.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to have avoided defeat over the matter in parliament on Tuesday after giving assurances to rebels in her own party that she would make concessions in a new, government-backed amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill if they gave her their support.
The bill will now return to the upper House, where Lords can approve or reject this proposed compromise and attach further amendments to it. It will then come back to the Commons once more, when MPs likewise can reject or vote through amendments to the legislation.
Grieve had hoped to agree a motion that MPs could amend so that they could set out what kind of action the government should take if they rejected a deal negotiated with Brussels. Instead, he said, the changed wording meant any vote would merely indicate the government had considered MPs’ views.
“The motion is unamendable and that means that it is just a motion to take note and it is contrary to the normal procedures of the House of Commons and it is a mistake,” he said, adding that he would try to persuade the government to change its mind.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said the government’s new amendment respected the tests set out by Brexit Secretary David Davis later on Tuesday evening, which state any compromise amendment must not undermine negotiations with Brussels or hinder the government’s ability to negotiate international treaties in future. The spokeswoman said the government had listened to MPs who had called for the “ability to express their views, in the unlikely event that our preferred scenario did not come to pass.”