EU Withdrawal Bill debate: Day 1

Keir Starmer

"The government can not demonstrate the flexibility necessary for a successful deal if its hands are tied midway through that process", Davis said.

A move that would have given MPs the power to stop Britain leaving the European Union (EU) without a deal was rejected in the House of Commons. He said he would vote against the prime minister.

Ahead of the first votes, Britain's Brexit minister David Davis warned politicians in parliament that rebelling against the government would tie his hands when negotiating in Brussels.

The Labour whips - who enforce discipline in the party - instructed lawmakers Wednesday to abstain on an amendment favoring membership of the EEA.

The fall-out from Britain's referendum vote in 2016 to leave the European Union has reshaped politics, deepening divisions within its main parties and raising tensions between its four nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Party officials have been frantically lobbying to convince lawmakers who have threatened to vote against the government to stay in line, using arguments ranging from the threat of being turfed out by a government led by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to losing leverage in Brexit talks with the EU.

"And the thought of no deal absolutely terrifies us".

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One said privately on Thursday that they didn't want to risk toppling May at a time when her position is already perilous.

Ministers saw off a move to give MPs the decisive say on what happens over Brexit if they do not agree with the deal negotiated by the United Kingdom government.

Remain-backing former minister Anna Soubry insisted that Mrs May had agreed at Tuesday's meeting to discuss all elements of Mr Grieve's amendment - including the measure to allow MPs to take control of the process if no Brexit deal is struck by February.

Currently, the government is offering lawmakers a "take it or leave it" vote on the final deal.

Controversially, the government only scheduled a few hours of parliamentary time for the Commons to debate and vote on the proposed amendments.

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said that the only reason May's government had decided on a climb down was because 'they thought they were going to lose the vote'.

Corbyn has said the party won't be voting with the government on this amendment because the Conservatives "offer no plan for securing the full tariff free access to the EU's internal market, which is so vital for jobs and living standards in our country".

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Hours before the debate started, a justice minister who has always been critical of the handling of Brexit, resigned in protest at what he called the government's "wish to limit" the role of lawmakers in shaping Brexit and said he would vote against the prime minister.

An agreement that defused a potential rebellion over handing parliament more control over Britain's exit from the European Union looked in danger of unravelling on Wednesday, when the two camps argued over the shape of a possible compromise on a "meaningful vote".

On Wednesday, parliament will consider a challenge to her commitment to leave the EU's single market and customs union, which will transform Britain's future trading relationships for many years to come.

It has also intensified pressure on a prime minister who lost her party's parliamentary majority at an ill-judged election past year and tested her already weakened authority.

Far from it. Even with the support of 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs, Mrs May has a working majority of just 13 in the Commons, which means she can be defeated by a rebellion of as few as seven Tory backbenchers.

He confirmed that ministers will seek to overturn 14 amendments which he said would undermine the goal of the Bill and fail to respect the result of the 2016 referendum.

"Partnership, love dance - don't care what you call it, that's what we will need to avoid any border to Northern Ireland", she said.

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