Re­mainer Tory MPs left an­gry by ‘sneaky’ change to Brexit bill

Daily Express - - COME ON ENGLAND - By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

THERESA May was fac­ing a re­newed re­volt over Brexit last night af­ter pro-Brus­sels Tory rebels re­jected her of­fer of a com­pro­mise.

Min­is­ters yes­ter­day tabled an amend­ment to the Prime Min­is­ter’s Brexit leg­is­la­tion promis­ing votes in the Com­mons and Lords if the Gov­ern­ment fails to agree a draft de­par­ture deal with the EU by Jan­uary 21 next year.

But Tories cam­paign­ing for close links with Brus­sels were fu­ri­ous the pro­posed change to the EU (With­drawal) Bill fell short of their de­mand for a bind­ing par­lia­men­tary vote that could force the Gov­ern­ment back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table if the talks floun­der.

One an­gry Re­mainer MP ac­cused min­is­ters of “sneaky” be­hav­iour af­ter days of wran­gling over the Bill.

And for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral Do­minic Grieve, one of the ring­leaders of the re­bel­lion, branded the amend­ment “un­ac­cept­able”.

Threat­en­ing a fresh re­volt against the Gov­ern­ment, he said: “The mat­ter is not re­solved and will have to be de­bated again next week.”

But Brexit-back­ing MPs were said to be “re­lieved” by de­tails of the amend­ment last night.

Be­trayal

They in­sisted Re­main­ers’ at­tempts to give Par­lia­ment the power to block a “no-deal” de­par­ture from the EU had been dashed.

Tory MP An­drew Brid­gen said: “I’m re­lieved the Gov­ern­ment’s at­tempt to ap­pease po­ten­tial rebels will not af­fect the in­tegrity of the With­drawal Bill. This will come as a re­lief to the 17.4 mil­lion peo­ple who voted to leave the EU and who be­lieve in democ­racy.”

An ex­tra­or­di­nary row erupted af­ter the amend­ment to the Bill was tabled min­utes be­fore the 5pm dead­line.

Three hours ear­lier, pro-Brus­sels Tories had been claim­ing vic­tory af­ter an in­tense se­ries of ne­go­ti­a­tions about the amend­ment.

They had threat­ened to re­volt ear­lier in the week but aban­doned that idea af­ter the Prime Min­is­ter of­fered a com­pro­mise in a pri­vate meet­ing. The amend­ment says that the Gov­ern­ment will com­mit to make a min­is­te­rial state­ment if Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions fail to reach an “agree­ment in prin­ci­ple” with Brus­sels.

It also prom­ises the Gov­ern­ment will move “a mo­tion in neu­tral terms, to the ef­fect that the House of Com­mons has con­sid­ered the mat­ter of the state­ment”.

A sim­i­lar mo­tion in the House of Lords was also promised.

The pro­pos­als mean MPs and peers will get a chance to ex­press their opin­ion – but not al­ter the course of Gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

Min­utes af­ter the amend­ment was tabled, Mr Grieve said: “It is un­ac­cept­able. At the end of the process, some­thing was in­ex­pli­ca­bly changed which had not been agreed.

“The Gov­ern­ment has made the mo­tion un­a­mend­able, con­trary to the usual meth­ods of the House of Com­mons, and there­fore it can­not be ac­cepted.”

Fel­low rebel Anna Soubry ac­cused the Gov­ern­ment of “be­trayal”.

The for­mer busi­ness min­is­ter said: “This amend­ment has changed with­out Do­minic Grieve or any­one else be­ing con­sulted. It is now com­pletely mean­ing­less.

“That is a very se­ri­ous be­trayal of one of the most se­nior politi­cians in Par­lia­ment. I find it quite as­ton­ish­ing. I thought we were agreed.”

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Ms Soubry had de­scribed Mr Grieve as “a hero” for bro­ker­ing the ex­pected com­pro­mise

with the Gov­ern­ment. One White­hall source said: “They had done an ag­gres­sive job of brief­ing what they thought they had achieved in ad­vance of the amend­ment’s pub­li­ca­tion.”

Re­main-back­ing peers are ex­pected to rally be­hind a ri­val amend­ment in the House of Lords on Monday.

And rebel MPs are likely to defy or­ders from Tory whips to over­turn that de­ci­sion when the Bill bounces back to the Com­mons, leav­ing the two houses in con­sti­tu­tional “ping pong”.

Tory back­bencher and Re­mainer Sarah Wol­las­ton said: “So, just to be clear, we are now go­ing to have to amend the ‘un­a­mend­able’ af­ter the agreed amend­able amend­ment ac­quired a sneaky sting in the tail. What a time to be alive.”

A spokesman for the Brexit-back­ing pres­sure group Change Bri­tain said last night: “Bri­tain al­ready had its ‘mean­ing­ful vote’ on June 23, 2016. MPs should stop try­ing to re­verse a re­sult they don’t like.”

A spokesman for the Depart­ment for Ex­it­ing the EU said: “Our new amend­ment re­spects the tests set out by the Prime Min­is­ter and the Brexit Sec­re­tary.

“We have lis­tened to those across the House who called for the abil­ity to ex­press their views in the un­likely event that our pre­ferred sce­nario did not come to pass.

“The amend­ment en­sures that in all cir­cum­stances, Par­lia­ment can hold Gov­ern­ment to ac­count while also al­low­ing Gov­ern­ment to de­liver on the will of the Bri­tish peo­ple as ex­pressed in the ref­er­en­dum.

“But this re­mains hy­po­thet­i­cal and the Gov­ern­ment is con­fi­dent we will agree a good deal with the EU which Par­lia­ment will sup­port.”

Fac­ing re­volt...Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May leav­ing Down­ing Street this week

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