Politico: The U.K. government has agreed to give parliament more power over its Brexit negotiations in a last-ditch bid to avoid a damaging House of Commons defeat. Rebel Conservative MPs, who had threatened to vote against the government, agreed to lend their numbers to overturn a House of Lords amendment giving parliament a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal after ministers agreed to address their concerns.
One of the key amendments handed down from the House of Lords, the upper house of parliament, would have granted lawmakers the power to reject the Brexit deal and force the government to return to the negotiating table just months before the UK is slated to leave the EU next March.
However, the government narrowly defeated the bid with the House of Commons voting 324 to 298 against the amendment — albeit only after May agreed to a series of last-minute concessions with pro-EU rebels inside her Conservative Party.
After winning Tuesday’s vote over changes to a future “meaningful vote” on a final agreement with Brussels in her EU withdrawal bill, May’s plans to end more than 40 years of membership in the bloc were still on track.
France 24 said that “her concession to discuss the changes may mean lawmakers could have more power if she fails to secure a Brexit deal, possibly leading to a softer approach to Britain’s divorce. However, as things stand, they will not be able to send the government back into negotiations if they reject an agreement with the EU. Brexit campaigners still expressed concern that the concession may open the door to the EU trying to force Britain into retaining the closest possible ties with the bloc by weakening the government’s hand in the talks. Pro-EU lawmakers welcomed it as a signal that the government is giving up on a “no deal” Brexit.”
FT reported that “in the end, as parliament asserted its authority over the prime minister, Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general and leading rebel, could be seen mouthing to a colleague: “We will get what we want.”
The prime minister, advised by a despairing Mr Smith, ordered a tactical retreat, agreeing to further talks with the rebels and a fresh amendment to avoid a Commons defeat. Nothing was set down in writing, but new wording is expected when the legislation returns to the House of Lords in a few days time.”