Ministers to publish Brexit compromise deal
Theresa May has welcomed passage of her flagship EU Withdrawal Bill through Parliament.
The Government is to publish details of the compromise deal which enabled Theresa May to head off a revolt by pro-EU Tories over her flagship Brexit bill.
The EU Withdrawal Bill completed its passage through Parliament on Wednesday evening when it was finally passed by the House of Lords without a vote.
Earlier the Commons rejected a Lords amendment which would have given MPs the power to block a “no deal” Brexit by 319 votes to 303.
The Prime Minister welcomed the passage of the bill – which transfers EU regulations on to the UK statute book – as “a crucial step in delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit”.
Today Parliament has passed the EU Withdrawal Bill, a crucial step in delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit – the Brexit people voted for. pic.twitter.com/tuMoTAcYSt— Theresa May (@theresa_may) June 20, 2018
“Today’s votes show people in the UK, and to the EU, that the elected representatives in this country are getting on with the job, and delivering on the will of the British people,” she said.
There were dramatic scenes at Westminster on Wednesday as MPs were told shortly before the key vote of the final concession to pro-EU rebels.
Under the deal, an official ministerial statement will be issued on Thursday making clear it is ultimately for Speaker John Bercow to decide whether they get a “meaningful vote” on a no-deal withdrawal from the EU.
The concession was accepted by leading pro-EU Tory Dominic Grieve, who said it was an “obvious acknowledgement” of the sovereignty of the Commons over the executive “in black and white language”.
But it was dismissed as a fudge by Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon and described as meaningless by Labour whips.
This evening the EU (Withdrawal) Bill has completed its passage through Parliament after 250 hours of debate – this is an important step in our preparations to leave the EU— Exiting the EU Dept (@DExEUgov) June 20, 2018
Despite the concession, six Tory rebels voted for the amendment, while on the Labour side four pro-Brexit MPs defied their whips to vote with the Government against it.
The Lords amendment to the bill had required MPs to be given the opportunity to approve or reject the Government’s plans for the next steps in the case that no agreement can be reached with Brussels by Brexit Day in March next year.
Pro-EU Tories threatened to rebel when the Government offered its alternative of an unamendable “neutral motion” simply allowing MPs to take note of the situation.
However the statement to be issued on Thursday by Brexit Secretary David Davis will state explicitly that the parliamentary rule-book gives the Speaker the power to determine whether a motion is amendable or not.
It also notes the parliamentary convention that time is made available to debate motions tabled by MPs on matters of concern.
But Downing Street left no doubt ministers were confident of drafting a motion which Mr Bercow will deem to be unamendable.
House of Commons votes 319 to 303 against Dominic Grieve's amendment (b) to the #EUWithdrawalBill.— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) June 20, 2018
This amendment relates to a meaningful vote on the UK's exit deal with the European Union.
Mrs May’s official spokesman told reporters: “We will ensure that under standing orders the motion we bring forward is neutral.”
Downing Street’s determination to force their motion through was indicated when Tory whips made clear they would not abide by a parliamentary convention allowing votes to be “nodded through” from ambulances and cars in the courtyard outside if MPs are too ill to physically pass through the voting lobbies.
Bradford West’s Naz Shah, who has been ill, was pushed in to vote in a wheelchair with a sick bucket on her lap, in scenes which fellow Labour MP Catherine McKinnell said showed an “utter lack of humanity and compassion” from the Government.
Meanwhile pregnant Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson and Labour MP Laura Pidcock turned out to oppose the PM’s plans despite being close to their due dates.