Don’t tie our hands in Brexit negotiations, British government tells parliament

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As the vote approached, Tory MPs intending to defy the party whip in order to vote with Labour on the amendment left the chamber.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer commented: "This vote was about ensuring parliament was given a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no deal situation, which is becoming more likely with the divisions at the heart of this government".

The meaningful vote is probably the most unsafe of the Lords amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill - because it tees up an unpredictable vote on the final terms of Brexit, towards the end of this year, and opens up the possibility that MPs could demand that ministers change policy, in the event the terms were rejected by the House, or no deal was reached in the talks with the EU.... they could even demand (drumroll) a second referendum... With that being the case, Parliament seems highly unlikely to vote down the Brexit deal proposed to it in the autumn.

May's divided cabinet has yet to settle on what sort of customs deal Britain should have with the European Union - an issue of crucial importance to businesses with cross-border supply chains, and the land border between European Union member state Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

After winning Tuesday's vote on changes to a future "meaningful vote" on a final agreement with Brussels in her European Union withdrawal bill, May's plans to end more than 40 years of membership in the bloc were still on track.

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Clause C is aimed at allowing MPs to give "direction" to the government in the event of no Brexit deal having been reached by mid-February 2019, but Downing Street has signalled it is "not up for discussion".

A statement from the Brexit ministry said the government had agreed to "look for a compromise". Philip Lee said a choice between "bad and worse" options was not giving MPs a meaningful vote. Opening the debate, Brexit Secretary David Davis said: "What it actually amounts to is an unconstitutional shift, which risks undermining our negotiations with the European Union". It meant that the United Kingdom government successfully defeated the Lords amendment, 324 to 298, to the dismay of Labour and other opposition parties.

"The question of what form parliamentary approval of the withdrawal bill takes is one of the most significant decisions this house will have to take", he said.

"The prime minister said that the votes were important in terms of the message they send to Brussels", May's spokesman said she told her cabinet team of ministers.

MPs will on Wednesday debate a series of other amendments to the bill, which if passed, would seek to force May to change course and negotiate to stay inside a customs union and the single market after Brexit. They stood down after the government promised to engage in talks on a compromise.

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At this stage it looks like it will be very tight - but the government might just make it over the line.

Morgan admitted there was a part of the Grieve amendment that "does go further" than the prime minister was prepared to accept but said they had not been played.

Also on Tuesday, the government successfully overturned an attempt to remove the date of Brexit from the face of the bill.

Prime Minister Theresa May fought off a humiliating Commons defeat on the Government's Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday evening but was forced to agree to concessions with a group of Remainers in her own party.

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