Brexit LIVE: Keir Starmer demands MORE control on Brexit despite new concession

Posted on Jun 20 2018 - 6:48pm by admin

The Prime Minister was facing the prospect of losing the crucial vote on her flagship EU Withdrawal Bill to grant Parliament more power over the divorce process.

But following a tense morning for ministers, MPs voted with the Government by 319 to 303 after a last-minute concession to appease Tory rebels was drawn up.

The group of pro-EU Conservatives, led by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, had threatened to defy the party whip and vote against the Government to ensure MPs are granted a ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit.

They argued the Commons should be given the ability to direct ministers and potentially stop the split if British negotiators are unable to strike a deal with Brussels.

The Prime Minister managed to avoid defeat after Mr Davis wrote to MPs to assure them Commons Speaker John Bercow would ultimately decide whether the house could have a ‘meaningful vote’.

Previous wording put forward by ministers had only granted MPs the power to “note” the Government’s Brexit position without having any say on how it should proceed.

The Brexit Secretary said an official statement on the wording of the new concession will be issued by the Government tomorrow.

But he said the Mr Bercow would have the final say on whether MPs can have a say.

The question of a ‘meaningful vote’ will only arise if the Government is unable to reach an agreement with the EU and Britain is faced with leaving with no deal.

But Brexiteers have warned granting MPs a vote would only serve to limit the UK’s negotiating position.

It would also greatly reduce the possibility of a hard Brexit.

Those who back a vote have argued allowing MPs to direct the Government is needed to prevent economic catastrophe if the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal.

You can follow the latest updates with’s live blog below…

Brexit news: Dominic GrievePARLIAMENT TV

Brexit news: Dominic Grieve has backed down on his threat to vote against the Government

3.25pm:Commons Speaker John Bercow will ultimately have the final say on whether MPs are granted a ‘meaningful vote’ on a no-deal Brexit.

A last-minute concession to appease Tory rebels has been offered to pro-EU Conservatives who had threatened to vote against the Government on its EU Withdrawal Bill.

Brexit Secretary David Davis wrote to MPs to say an official statement would be published by Number 10 tomorrow, stating whether or not MPs will have a say will be Mr Bercow’s decision.

The eleventh-hour change could be enough to stave off a rebellion from the Conservative benches, with leading rebels Dominic Grieve and Nicky Morgan both saying they would back the Government in light of the concession.

3.15pm: Tory rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve has backed down over his threat to vote against the Government on its Brexit bill.

Surrounded by fellow pro-EU Conservative MPs, the former Attorney General said he had struck a compromise with Number 10 over a ‘meaningful vote’ for MPs.

Acknowledging the Government was in a difficult position, he said: “Having finally obtained, I have to say with a little bit more difficulty than I would have wished, the obvious acknowledgement of the sovereignty of this place over the executive in black and white language I am prepared to accept the Government’s difficulty and support it.”

Theresa May

GETTY•PATheresa May is facing a fresh Brexit showdown with Tory Remainers today

13:22pm: Irish leader Leo Varadkar has accused the UK of stalling progress in Brexit talks and warned of the consequences of not striking a deal on the border.

The Taoiseach told reporters in Dublin: “We had a good political agreement in December.

“We had further progress in March where they accepted there had to be a backstop as part of the withdrawal agreement. But since then, progress has stalled.

“What I want all of Europe to do is to continue to stand behind Ireland and say to the UK they have to honour the commitments they made.”

10:40pm: Verhofstadt also said he was “puzzled” by the UK’s negotiating stance, especially over the Irish border, the main sticking point in talks.

He told MPs: “I can answer every hypothetical question you ask, but what has been offered is not acceptable to the European Parliament.”

He said he was not surprised by the slow pace of negotiations, adding: “It took 40 years to establish relations, so it takes time to undo that.”

Leo Varadkar and Theresa MayGETTY

Irish leader Leo Varadkar accused the UK of stalling progress in Brexit talks

10.16am: The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has told MPs that “80 per cent of the withdrawal agreement is agreed”.

Appearing in front of the Brexit Committee, the Belgian MEP said the UK and EU had yet to reach an agreement on the Irish border issue.

He added: “The backstop is a backstop. It is only a solution if there is no other solution. Let’s not make out the backstop is the solution to Ireland.”

9:06am: Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has urged Labour MPs to support the Lords amendment.

He said: “This is the last chance for Parliament to secure a meaningful vote and protect jobs and the economy from a no deal Brexit.”

“This vote is not about stopping Brexit or tying the hands of UK negotiators. It is about making sure Parliament has a truly meaningful say on the terms of the final Brexit deal.”

Guy VerhofstadtPARLIAMENT TV

Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt appearing in front of the Commons’ Brexit Committee

8:42am: The Commons debate is due to start at 1pm, opened by Brexit Secretary Davis Davis, with the vote scheduled for 2.30pm.

However, it could be delayed if ministerial statements or urgent questions are announced.

A Westminister source said the vote could be pushed back by an hour, adding: “They’re coming up with some government statement to slow things down.”

The House of Lords will consider any changes to the Withdrawal Bill at around 6:30pm.

8:01am: Brexiteers are said to be increasingly confident of victory, with one Cabinet minister saying: “It has been tight but we are on course to win.”

Tory whips have urged Labour MPs in pro-Brexit constituencies to either abstain or vote with the Government.

A senior Government figure told Politico: “We’ve had some good conversations, and not just with Conservatives.

“There is a common goal to get things done. It’s one of the interesting twists of a hung parliament.”

Anna Soubry on Downing StreetGETTY

Outspoken Tory Remainer Anna Soubry is set to rebel against the Government

7:55am: Tory MP Phillip Lee said Brexit rebels could still potentially help defeat the Government despite the “dark arts” of the whips to avert a revolt.

The former minister said talks were still ongoing to find a compromise ahead of the Commons showdown on the so-called “meaningful vote” amendment.

Asked how united the rebels were, he told the BBC: “We were always going to get the normal dark arts of Westminster taking place, fully expected.

“But my understanding is that the position taken by a number of colleagues is solid, which is why the Government is still in negotiations.”

Theresa MayGETTY

The Prime Minister staved off a Tory rebellion on a ‘meaningful vote’ last week

7:47am: Anna Soubry, an outspoken Tory Remainer, posted a lengthy statement online last night about why she will rebel against the Government.

The Broxtowe MP wrote: “Getting Brexit right is vital and is the most important set of decisions our country has taken in decades.

“Whatever we were told during the referendum, you can’t simply unravel 43 years of membership of the EU in a year or two and getting a new trading deal is far from the ‘simplest’ of matters as we were assured.

“So for our sakes and the future of our children and grandchildren, we have to get this right.”

And ex-Cabinet minister Dominic Grieve, another one of the leading figures in the stand-off, said he expected negotiations to “go right to the wire”.

Dominic GrieveGETTY

Ex-Cabinet minister Dominic Grieve is one of the top figures in the stand-off

7:35am: Mrs May has warned against any moves to “tie her hands” during negotiations with Brussels.

Speaking on Monday, the Prime Minister said that Parliament must not be able to “overturn the will of the British people”.

She added: “The EU Withdrawal Bill is an important part of the legislation we need in order to be leaving the European Union.”

A Downing Street spokesman added: “We cannot accept the amendment on a meaningful vote agreed in the Lords.

“Agreeing to amendable motions would allow Parliament to direct Government on its approach to exiting the EU, binding the Prime Minister’s hands and making it harder to secure a good deal for the UK.”

Brexit protestGETTY

Anti-Brexit protesters waving EU and Union flags outside the House of Commons

7:30am: Prime Minister Theresa May faces another tense Brexit showdown in the House of Commons today.

On Monday, peers backed a controversial amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill aiming to give MPs a ‘meaningful vote’ on Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

Under the amendment, tabled by Lord Hailsham, ministers must update Parliament by 21 January 2019 if there is no prospect of a deal with the EU.

Two weeks later, they would return to the Commons with a statement revealing how the Government plans to proceed.

MPs would then be given a vote on whether to approve the action.

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