News

Brexit pain

UK Government wins skirmish by making concessions

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


LONDON, England (AP) — The British Government was rocked by a resignation and faced anger in Parliament over its Brexit plans yesterday, but staved off defeat by offering concessions to lawmakers who want to soften the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union.

By a vote of 324 to 298, the House of Commons rejected a move to give lawmakers power to send the Government back to the negotiating table if they don't like the terms of the Brexit deal struck with the EU.

The result left Prime Minister Theresa May to fight another day as she tries to take Britain out of the bloc, while retaining support from pro-EU and pro-Brexit wings of her Conservative Party.

But it came at a cost — a Government promise to strengthen Parliament's voice, potentially at the expense of its own power to set the terms of any final divorce deal with the EU.

The vote came on the first of two days of high-stakes debate and votes in the House of Commons on the Government's flagship Brexit bill.

The European Union Withdrawal Bill, a complex piece of legislation intended to disentangle Britain from four decades of EU rules and regulations, has had a rocky ride through Parliament. The upper chamber, the House of Lords, inserted amendments in 15 areas to soften the departure.

The Government says the changes would weaken Britain's negotiating position and is seeking to reverse them in the Commons.

Brexit Secretary David Davis urged lawmakers to “respect the result of the referendum” that approved the withdrawal. He said giving Parliament power to direct the Government's hand in talks would be “an unconstitutional shift which risks undermining our negotiations with the European Union”.

“It's not practical, it's not desirable and it's not appropriate,” Davis said.

The Government won the first set of votes yesterday, but looked set to face defeat on the issue of whether Parliament should have a “meaningful vote” on the Brexit deal. Several pro-EU Conservative lawmakers said they would join the Opposition in voting against the Government.

The pro-EU faction got a boost when junior justice minister Phillip Lee resigned yesterday, saying he could no longer support the Government's “irresponsible” plans for Brexit.

In a concession, the Government promised that lawmakers would have a say on what to do next if there is no agreement with the EU, or if Parliament rejects the deal offered.

The change reduced the likelihood that Britain could leave the EU without a deal if it does not like the divorce terms. Pro-Brexit members of the Government want to be able to play the “no deal” card, but the House of Commons, where pro-EU voices are stronger, would almost certainly reject the idea.

Details of the Government's commitment will have to be formalised next week in a new amendment to the bill. The Brexit Department said in a statement that it would look for compromise, but would not agree to lawmakers “binding the government's hands” in negotiations.

Another flashpoint could come when lawmakers vote Wednesday on an amendment seeking to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU.

Two years after Britain voted to leave the EU, and eight months before it's due to leave on March 29, 2019, the bloc is frustrated with what it sees as a lack of firm proposals from the UK about future relations.

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT