Thursday 20 September 2018

May will fall if the UK parliament rejects Brexit deal, says top Tory

Mrs May managed to avoid a damaging defeat on the issue as MPs debated amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Mrs May managed to avoid a damaging defeat on the issue as MPs debated amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Jack Maidment

Theresa May's government will fall if parliament rejects her Brexit deal, a senior Tory MP has predicted.

Tom Tugendhat, Conservative chairman of the UK parliamentary foreign affairs select committee, said there would be a "new government" if Mrs May lost the so-called "meaningful vote" on the terms of withdrawal, due to take place in October.

Mr Tugendhat's warning came as the prime minister continued to wrestle with a demand from Tory Remainer rebels to hand parliament the ability to direct negotiations if it rejects the final deal. Tory Brexiteers are fiercely resistant to the idea because they believe it could effectively be used as a Brexit veto to keep the UK in the EU.

Mr Tugendhat suggested there was no need to "beef up" the "meaningful vote" which currently offers parliament the choice between the government's deal and Britain leaving the EU with no deal.

"I think we are going to get a meaningful vote anyway.

"The meaningful vote is going to be either the government's deal is accepted in which case that is the meaningful vote to accept it or it isn't accepted, in which case frankly there is going to be a new government," he told 'Sky News'.

Mrs May managed to avoid a damaging defeat on the issue as MPs debated amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

She convinced Tory Remainers not to go ahead with a bid to bolster the "meaningful vote" on Tuesday by telling them she would find a compromise way forward.

But with Remainers adamant the PM had committed to giving parliament more power and Brexiteers equally convinced she had done no such thing, observers believe Mrs May is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, said he could not accept any amendments to the Brexit bill that would "allow parliament to instruct government on what steps it should take" in the negotiations.

He told MPs: "Such a move would be constitutionally unprecedented, the current constitutional arrangements have served this country well for hundreds of years over thousands of treaties."

Two days of debate on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill further exposed the Brexit fault line at the heart of the Tory Party.

Mrs May won every vote but the "meaningful vote" issue has put her in a seemingly precarious position.

Pro-EU Tories have warned they remain ready to rebel if their demands are not satisfied by the compromise amendment while leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed their idea made a "no-deal Brexit" more likely.

Meanwhile, six members of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's shadow team quit over the issue and more than a third of Labour MPs voted against the whip to back membership of the European Economic Area (EEA).

A total of 89 of the party's 257 MPs ignored front bench orders to abstain from voting either for or against the EEA amendment.

Labour split three ways on the vote, with 74 voting in favour of the Lords amendment, 15 voting against it, and the majority abstaining. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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