Government avoids EU Withdrawal Bill defeat after last-ditch deal on 'meaningful vote'

Jeremy Corbyn

The government was putting a combative spin on the concessions Tuesday evening: "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 global treaties, and respecting the referendum result", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement.

"The main reason for my taking this decision now is the Brexit process and the government's wish to limit parliament's role in contributing to the final outcome in a vote that takes place today", Lee, who voted to remain in the European Union during Britain's 2016 referendum, said on his website.

"Labour will only vote for a final Brexit deal if it delivers a strong relationship with the single market based on full tariff-free access and ensures no loss of rights and standards", Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Facebook.

The pound traded higher against the euro and the dollar after the votes.

A Lords amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill would have given MPs the decisive say on what happens over Brexit if they don't agree with the final deal with the EU.

An hour before the vote, the government's solicitor general, Robert Buckland, promised lawmaker Dominic Grieve talks on increasing the powers of parliament if May was unable to reach agreement in Brussels.

Remainer Stephen Hammond said a group of potential rebels - believed to number 15-20 - received assurances from the PM moments before the key vote. Given that after November 30, the House of Commons looks set to be empowered in the negotiations, it would not be in Barnier's interest to negotiate a harder form of Brexit before the U.K.'s self-imposed deadline.

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

Pro-EU Tories want guarantees that Parliament will be able to stop the government taking Britain out of the EU without a deal, if negotiations break down in Brussels.

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Pro-Brexit tabloid the Sun warned lawmakers on Tuesday's front page that they had a choice: "Great Britain or great betrayal".

307 Conservative MPs backed the government, which is a strong result for Theresa May, who just hours earlier had feared she would lose her majority due to disgruntled Tory MPs.

MPs will vote on Wednesday on whether to dismiss a plan proposed by the upper chamber of parliament which would require ministers to report what efforts they had made to secure a customs union with the EU by the end of October.

The problem for the prime minister is that she can't keep both sides happy.

However, ministers made a last minute offer to enter talks about accepting the bulk of an alternative rebel amendment which would give MPs more limited powers to prevent Britain from crashing out of the European Union without a deal.

There is little May can do. She now relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party.

But as time ticks by, she can no longer kick decisions down the road, increasingly under pressure from European Union negotiators to come up with detailed positions not only on customs, but also on the wider trade agreement and governance.

This came after a last-minute resignation by the justice minister Dr Phillip Lee, who said he could no longer look his children in the eye and vote to support the government.

He said: "Facing the prospect of a humiliating defeat, Theresa May has been forced to enter negotiations with her backbenchers and offer a so-called concession".

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