Government compromise on 'meaningful vote' avoids Brexit defeat

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Ministers defeated a move to give MPs the decisive say on what happens over Brexit if they do not agree with the final deal negotiated by the United Kingdom government. At this point, the main way in which a no-deal Brexit might happen is if the process simply runs out of time and the United Kingdom is unable to get Article 50 extended.

Remain-supporting Conservative MPs had threatened to defeat the government on an amendment to the bill which would have given Parliament a wide-ranging veto to May's Brexit deal, or even force a second referendum.

The concession on a meaningful vote came after intensive horse-trading on the floor of the House of Commons, with chief whip Julian Smith shuttling between Tory backbenchers during debate on Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

In the end Lee abstained, saying he trusted the premier to give parliament a "voice" in a compromise motion due to be presented when the bill returns to the Lords on Monday.

"In all conscience, I can not support the Government's decision to oppose this amendment because doing so breaches such fundamental principles of human rights and Parliamentary sovereignty. It is, however, irresponsible to proceed as we are".

A minister long critical of the government's handling of Brexit resigned earlier in protest at what he called its "wish to limit" the role of lawmakers in the process.

"We have now removed every incentive from the European Union for doing a deal by the end of November", one senior United Kingdom government official said.

Anna Soubry, a pro-EU Conservative MP, said she knew of one legislator who would not vote with their conscience because of "threats to their personal safety" and that of staff and family.

She told BBC Radio 4's World At One that "at least half a dozen" junior ministers had been "very uncomfortable for some time" at the Government's direction on Brexit.

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His 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 over whether parliament can prevent a no-deal Brexit.

The rebels pulled back from voting against May in Parliament in London on Tuesday but only after she made a dramatic last minute appeal to them to trust her.

May says the changes would weaken the government's negotiating position, and the government will try to alter or reverse them in the House of Commons on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The people want us to leave the EU".

Dismissing the Government's compromise, she tweeted: "Merely issuing a statement in response would make it a meaningless final vote. Any compromise [amendment] would have to be tabled by Govt in Lords".

An alternative compromise tabled at the 11th hour by former attorney general Dominic Grieve would require ministers to get parliament's approval for their next steps if no political agreement has been reached with the European Union by the end of November.

It would also give hard Brexiteers the chance to "scupper a good deal", she claimed. It opposes the other 14 and will be seeking to overturn them, though in some cases it is offering a compromise solution.

The logic of that argument is that EU negotiator Michel Barnier would prefer the softest of Brexits - a model known as "Norway plus", in which Britain remains in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the customs union, accepting all single market rules, including freedom of movement, and the EU's trade policy without any representation in Brussels.

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