Theresa May survives Brexit showdown as sick MPs attend to vote

Written by Tom Freeman and Kevin Schofield on 21 June 2018 in News

EU Withdrawal bill passed by MPs after Dominic Grieve and other Tory rebels accept compromise over final say

Labour MP Naz Shah was forced to attend to vote in a wheelchair - Parliament TV 

Theresa May has avoided a Commons defeat after Tory rebels accepted a last-minute Brexit compromise on giving MPs the final say on a no-deal Brexit.

Government whips demanded that ill MPs were physically present in the division lobbies for the crucial vote, and the EU Withdrawal Bill was passed 319 votes to 303.

Brexit Secretary David Davis tabled a written ministerial statement pledging that the Commons Speaker would be able to rule whether any Government motion on the deal was amendable, thereby allowing MPs to potentially defeat ministers.

May said: "Today's votes show people in the UK, and to the EU, that the elected representatives in this country are getting on with the job, and delivering on the will of the British people.

"Over the next few weeks we will publish more details of our proposed future relationship with the EU in a White Paper, and will bring the Trade and Customs Bills back to the House of Commons."

The compromise was enough to satisfy chief Tory rebel Dominic Grieve, who had tabled an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill seeking to give Parliament the power to block a no deal Brexit.

He told MPs: "I am prepared to accept the Government's difficulty and in the circumstances to accept the form of amendment it wants."

Mr Grieve said he would still be moving his own amendment - but would not be voting for it. The amendment was eventually defeated by 319 votes to 303.

A Labour source told Holyrood's sister site PoliticsHome: "Dominic Grieve has raised more white flags than at a regatta."

The Liberal Democrats also piled in, with Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake accusing Grieve of an embarassing U-turn.

"Just like the Grand Old Duke of York, Grieve has marched his troops to the top of the hill only to get cold feet and retreat with his tail between his legs," Brake said.
 
He added: "Despite the clear calamity that May and Davis are making of Brexit, the so-called Tory rebels have lost their bottle and caved into yet another pathetic government compromise that isn’t worth the paper it is written on."

Peers approved the government's proposal without a vote.

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