Brexit rebels inflict defeat on May despite late concession

Theresa May suffered a humiliating House of Commons defeat tonight in a critical Brexit vote at the hands of her own MPs.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 14th December 2017, 6:44 am
Updated Thursday, 14th December 2017, 10:40 am

In a damaging blow to the Prime Minister’s already diminished authority, Tory rebels yesterday rallied around ringleader Dominic Grieve to back his attempt to ensure MPs have a “meaningful vote” on the withdrawal deal.

His amendment seven requires any Brexit deal to be approved by a separate act of Parliament before it can be implemented.

A dramatic last-minute concession by justice minister Dominic Raab was dismissed as “too late” by Mr Grieve, whose amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill squeezed through the Commons on a majority of four amid tense scenes.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

There were cheers in the chamber when the result of the vote, 309 votes to 305, became clear to MPs.

Mr Grieve earlier told the Commons he would not back down and “we seem to have frankly run out of road” in efforts to get the Government to give way, but Downing Street insisted it had responded to concerns raised by MPs.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have, in good faith, come forward with a strong package of concessions to deal with the spirit of the amendment.”

Minutes before the vote, Mr Raab promised fresh limits on powers contained in the Bill, explaining that no statutory instrument approved under the controversial clause nine would take effect until Parliament had voted on Britain’s final deal with the European Union.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Clause nine provides the Government with the power to use secondary legislation to implement any Brexit deal - which would require less scrutiny from MPs.

Tory rebel Nicky Morgan tweeted: “Tonight Parliament took control of the EU Withdrawal process.”

A Labour amendment, seeking to remove the capacity of ministers to modify and amend the Act via delegated powers, was later defeated by 316 votes to 297.

Earlier, it was claimed a female Conservative MP was left “upset and shaken” after a conversation with a party whip.

Tory rebel Anna Soubry said she did not witness the conversation in the Commons on Tuesday evening, but found the unnamed MP in a state of distress afterwards.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “This defeat is a humiliating loss of authority for the Government on the eve of the European Council meeting.”