Theresa May has won a victory in the House of Commons over a ‘meaningful vote’ at the end of the Brexit negotiations after lead rebel Dominic Grieve accepted a last minute compromise. MPs voted 319-303 to reject a new amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
The Government saw off a rebellion last week after agreeing to a climb-down, but having reneged on key elements of the agreement, a further amendment was tabled by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
However during a dramatic speech at the start of the debate, Grieve said he could “accept the government’s difficulty and support it” and though he did give MPs the chance to vote on his amendment, he no longer supported it.
The government amendment means that when the Brexit deal is finalised, a statement will be made to Parliament and a Neutral Motion will be debated. It isn’t usual for a Neutral Motion to be subject to amendment, which would essentially leave MPs faced with a ‘take it or leave it’ vote. The final decision of whether an amendment could be tabled will rest with the Speaker.
Grieve said his change of heart results from his view that even if any motion could be amended, the government would simply be able to ignore it. Any move by MPs oppose the government would be limited to a vote of no confidence.
The events in the House of Commons came after Philip Lee, a former minister who quit the government to vote in favour of Grieve’s amendment last week, accused Tory whips of engaging in “dark arts” to ram through legislation.
The Bill will now return to the House of Lords later this week and is expected to complete its passage through Parliament before the Summer Recess.
Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief
It’ s been simply a disgraceful showing from the Tory rebels. Dominic Grieve’s action shows real cowardice and a Tory who continues to prioritise party over country. Grieve in his post-vote comments stated: “We’ve managed to reach a compromise without breaking the government – and I think some people don’t realise we were getting quite close to that.”
That is the mentality in the Conservative Party over Brexit, they are so afraid of their party losing power they won’t do the right thing. This vote leaves Parliament once again a spectator in the Brexit process. The 6 Tory rebels can be proud of themselves but must be looking at their moderate colleagues in disgust. There was no danger of a loss today causing a no-confidence vote, Labour couldn’t even get rid of Chris Grayling yesterday. Grieve and his allies acting as they have shows real weakness.