Saturday, 22 September, 2018

PM's compromise on Brexit branded unacceptable by pro-EU Tories

Theresa May’s frantic search for the perfect Brexit compromise Theresa May fails to appease Tory rebels on EU Withdrawal Bill
Glenn Montgomery | 18 June, 2018, 15:33

A leading Conservative has rejected a proposed compromise to Brexit legislation put forward by Theresa May in an attempt to avoid a rebellion by some of her own MPs.

Tory rebels could collapse the Government, former attorney general Dominic Grieve has said.

"We need to recognize the role of Parliament, but ensure that the government's hands can't be tied in negotiations and that Parliament does not overturn the will of the people", May told the BBC.

The government tabled an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill on Thursday following crunch talks with pro-EU Conservative backbenchers.

On Wednesday, the amendments will return again to the Commons, where May faces the possibility of defeat over a meaningful vote. We are so integral to the success of Galileo, it's very hard to see where the win is for the Commission."Another UK official, while describing the ongoing row, suggested Britain was being treated like a "hostile state" by Brussels.On Wednesday, EU member states and their European Space Agency delegations, in Paris, voted to give the go-ahead to the next round of contracts after British firms were blocked from bidding for them.Under normal ESA rules, member states can veto the awarding of contracts that would potentially incur financial liabilities to the agency.Britain was planning to use its veto to stop the procurement of 12 additional satellites until Brexit negotiations on the UK and EU's future security partnership had moved on".

The rebels were angered after the government amendment offered parliament the opportunity only to vote on a "neutral motion" stating that it has considered a minister's statement on the issue, if a deal is rejected.

"I've had communications, conversations with ministers at all levels who are concerned about the direction of travel", he told the BBC.

May reportedly gave assurances to her Tory colleagues that it would allow Parliamentary scrutiny, but some MPs said that the wording of a conciliatory amendment was changed after the meeting. The spokeswoman said the government had listened to MPs who had called for the "ability to express their views, in the unlikely event that our preferred scenario did not come to pass".

Mr Buckland stressed that while Tory rebels argued the vote they wanted would only be advisory, he stressed that even this vote could have a political outcome and send a signal to Brussels that the UK Government was not in control of its own negotiating strategy.

"At the end of the process, something was inexplicably changed, which had not been agreed".

Mrs May said the Government was still hopeful of remaining a partner in the EU's Galileo satellite navigation system despite Brexit, but if Brussels insisted the United Kingdom must leave then the United Kingdom will develop its own technology. Instead, MPs will be offered a vote on an unamendable statement, which would effectively turn any vote into to a vote of confidence in the prime minister.

What is the meaningful vote amendment?

Brexit supporters on the 1922 Committee - made up of Tory MPs who do not hold Government positions - were swift to react once the implications of these concessions became clear, with one senior Leaver remarking: "If Theresa and [Chief Whip Julian Smith] have sold us out here they are in real trouble".

The latest internal dispute concerns the role of the UK Parliament in the event that the government's negotiations with Brussels produce no agreement, shortly before the country is due to leave the European Union in March next year.

"The Government's amendment is simply not good enough", the Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said.

"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".

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