The lesson of today's government climbdown: we're likely heading for soft Brexit

13 June, 2018, 19:01 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • A casket team carries the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Robert E. Meyers a Korean War soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 2015. Meyers' remains were identified decades after his unit was involved in combat operations near Sonchu North Korea

A junior British justice minister said on Tuesday he will resign and will vote with pro-European Union rebels who want parliament to have the power to force the government to go back to the negotiating table if they reject a Brexit deal.

Remain-supporting Dr Lee quit as justice minister live on stage during a speech in London, saying he could not support "how our country's exit from the European Union looks set to be delivered".

"Anything that undermines the government at home will make negotiations with the European Union more hard", May told a meeting of her cabinet.

He called for Brexit to be delayed, and for the public to get a second referendum on the terms of any exit deal.

Peers defeated the government on 15 issues, introducing amendments on issues ranging from future United Kingdom membership of the customs union and European Economic Area (EEA) to ministers' use of "Henry VIII" powers to force through changes without parliamentary scrutiny and the questions of whether MPs should get a "meaningful vote" on the final Brexit deal.

The battle now moves to the House of Lords, where the government will formally reveal how much it has conceded in the wording of a new amendment expected on Monday or Tuesday.

Lee said that nonetheless, the present course raised questions of legitimacy because the end game was unclear.

Details of the government's commitment will have to be formalised next week in a new amendment to the bill.

"A vote between bad and worse is not a meaningful vote". Other flashpoints in the parliamentary votes include proposals to keep Britain tightly aligned with the E.U.'s economy.


Dr Lee added: "If Brexit is worth doing, then it is certainly worth doing well; regardless of how long that takes".

Lee said "the people, economy and culture of my constituency will be affected negatively" by Britain's European Union departure, and it is "irresponsible to proceed as we are". The government earlier had said it would not support that amendment.

Talks will now be held between ministers and Tory MPs uneasy with the government's handling of Brexit, in the hope of reaching an agreement before the legislation is passed back to the House of Lords.

Anna Soubry, a pro-EU Conservative MP, said she knew of one legislator who would not vote with their conscience because of "threats to their personal safety" and that of staff and family.

One pro-Brexit minister insisted the rebels had lost, and warned that if they continued to fight May they would only make a "no deal" divorce more likely.

Lee's resignation came as May's fragile minority government scrambled to shore up support among lawmakers before two days of debate and votes in the House of Commons on its flagship Brexit bill. This might convince some wavering "rebels" to back the government in order to save May and prevent Boris Johnson, the current foreign secretary and a leading so-called "Brexiteer", from seeking to replace her.

Dismissing the Government's compromise, she tweeted: "Merely issuing a statement in response would make it a meaningless final vote". Its Lords were instrumental in bringing about some of the amendments that have been sent back to the Commons.

Her fellow Conservative backbencher Stephen Hammond said: "Parliament must be able to have its say in a "no deal" situation".

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