May faces potential Brexit defeat
The UK Conservative Party faces yet another divisive vote on Brexit in the House of Commons today (Wednesday) after the House of Lords inserted Prime Minister Theresa May’s abandoned compromise with pro-EU rebels back into her Withdrawal Bill. The government was already defeated on the “meaningful vote” issue in the Commons last December after 11 Conservative MPs rebelled.
Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, has led the meaningful vote campaign and the amendment due to be debated is the one he thought he had agreed with the government last week.
Grieve has insisted he “doesn’t want” to bring down the government.
He has tried to clarify comments that if parliament voted down any final Brexit deal the government would “collapse”.
Potentially the next prime minister said: “What I said – which was rather typically misinterpreted by some sections of the press – was: would not rejecting a deal potentially lead to the collapse of the government? And I said yes.
“That’s what wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
“The reason I’ve prompted this amendment is to make sure we don’t come to government collapse immediately.”
Grieve said giving MPs a say if there was no deal in the months before Brexit would avoid a “road crash”.
One of his allies, Justine Greening, the former education minister, spoke in favour of Grieve’s amendment during the last Commons debate.
Ministers have accepted that MPs should have a vote on any deal but object to Grieve’s amendment, which they fear could allow MPs to direct the government’s approach to negotiations.
“Our original amendment struck the right balance between respecting the tests set out by the government as well as delivering on the aims of Dominic Grieve’s own amendment. That’s why we will be retabling our original amendment today [Tuesday] and will look to overturn the Lords decision,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
Brexiters are keen for May to defeat the rebels because they believe the parliamentary defeats are pushing the government into an increasingly soft Brexit.
The opposition Labour Party is working hard to ensure a strong turnout although last week, five Labour MPs, including veteran Frank Field, voted with the government.
Anti-EU Labour rebel, Graham Stringer, the MP for Blackley and Broughton, said his vote had not changed his mind. Stringer said Grieve and his colleagues were “not interested in a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal but in sabotaging the whole process”.
A major pro-EU rally is being held in London on June 23. Picture credit: Eurasia Times