MPs ‘take back control’ as Tory rebels help inflict Brexit vote defeat on May
Tory rebels rallied around ringleader Dominic Grieve to back his attempt to ensure MPs have a “meaningful vote” on the withdrawal deal.
MPs have “taken back control” of the Brexit process and inflicted a humiliating House of Commons defeat on Theresa May with the help of around a dozen Tory rebels.
In a damaging blow to her already diminished authority, Tory rebels rallied around ringleader Dominic Grieve to back his attempt to ensure MPs have a “meaningful vote” on the withdrawal deal.
A dramatic last-minute concession by justice minister Dominic Raab was dismissed as “too late” by Mr Grieve, whose amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill squeezed through the Commons on a majority of four amid tense scenes in the chamber.
Tory Remainer Nicky Morgan tweeted: “Tonight Parliament took control of the EU Withdrawal process”, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the defeat as “a humiliating loss of authority” for Mrs May.
Tonight Parliament took control of the EU Withdrawal process #Article7— Nicky Morgan MP (@NickyMorgan01) December 13, 2017
Amid intense scenes in the Commons as the division was called, would-be rebel Vicky Ford appeared to be wavering between division lobbies before being ushered towards the Government side by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexiteer MP James Cleverly.
She had asked Mr Raab to outline his concession, who told her he was making it “crystal clear” that there would be a “meaningful vote” before the withdrawal deal was put into UK law.
As Mrs May prepared to travel to a Brussels summit on Thursday where European Union leaders are expected to rubber-stamp Brexit negotiations moving on to trade, Mr Corbyn said: “This defeat is a humiliating loss of authority for the Government on the eve of the European Council meeting.
This defeat is a humiliating loss of authority for the Government on the eve of the European Council meeting. https://t.co/QWqAAvVtRk— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) December 13, 2017
“Labour has made the case since the referendum for a meaningful vote in Parliament on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
“Theresa May has resisted democratic accountability. Her refusal to listen means she will now have to accept Parliament taking back control.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed that Parliament has voted for this amendment despite the strong assurances that we have set out.
“We are as clear as ever that this Bill, and the powers within it, are essential.
“This amendment does not prevent us from preparing our statute book for exit day. We will now determine whether further changes are needed to the Bill to ensure it fulfils its vital purpose.”
Parliament tonight taking back control, the defeat for the government on #Amendment7 was the fault of the PM who just wouldn't listen and her dismissive, arrogant attitude backfired in dramatic style.Hats off to the Tory MPs who stuck with their principles despite severe pressure— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) December 13, 2017
There were 11 Tory rebels in total, according to the official Commons list.
Prominent Tory rebel Anna Soubry repeatedly shouted “too late” as Mr Raab outlined his concession and Government whips buzzed around the chamber in an attempt to win over MPs.
After a night of high drama in the Commons, Ms Soubry told Sky News: “Nobody takes any pleasure and certainly I don’t when the Government loses a vote, these are important things.
I put the interests of everyone in the UK before party loyalty this evening and voted for #A7— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) December 13, 2017
“But this was a really important moment because it was about actually delivering what the Government said it wanted to do, which was to have a meaningful vote in this place.
“The truth is Parliament has been excluded from the whole of the Brexit process and now we’re back in the frame and that means we can represent all our voters.”
She added: “It was a stupid fight the Government fought, and they fought it very badly, and I’m afraid they did themselves no favour.
“It (the rebellion) would have been higher but a number of my colleagues actually abstained because the Government made some sort of strange offer at the end.
Proud to be part of cross-party vote backing #Amendment7 to #EUWithdrawal Bill - disappointed not a single Scottish Tory voted in favour, siding w their Govt trying (& failing!) to deny @HouseofCommons a final say on #Brexit deal— Patrick Grady MP (@GradySNP) December 13, 2017
“They’ve just got to stop playing silly games with this, and they’ve got to realise that this Bill was drafted before the general election, it was drafted to deliver a hard Brexit backed up with a majority of 100.”
Ms Soubry, who earlier revealed she had found a woman MP “upset and shaken” after a whip tried to persuade her not to revolt on Tuesday evening, hit out at the abuse faced by rebels.
“Just slagging people off and calling us mutineers and traitors and all the rest of it is not acceptable,” she said.