Theresa May urges her MPs to send the nation “a message” on EU withdrawal bill

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 11 June 2018 in News

Nicola Sturgeon warns “we now face an unprecedented constitutional position, which puts at risk 19 years of constitutional convention and practice, on which devolution relies”.

Image credit: PA

Theresa May will urge her MPs to send the nation “a message” by backing her position on a series of Brexit amendments ahead of key votes on the EU withdrawal bill this week.

With MPs set to consider Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill on 12 and 13 June, the PM warned her own backbenchers: “We must be clear that we are united as a party in our determination to deliver on the decision made by the British people.”

The message came as Nicola Sturgeon wrote to House of Commons speaker John Bercow to call for a full debate on amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill to respect the views of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament previously refused to consent to the EU withdrawal bill, due to concerns over the legislation’s effect on devolution.

Outlining the Scottish Government’s position, the First Minister said: “we now face an unprecedented constitutional position, which puts at risk 19 years of constitutional convention and practice, on which devolution relies”.

She said: “The UK Government should now bring forward amendments to those made in the Lords that would reflect the views of the Scottish Parliament. The UK Government has not yet indicated to the Scottish Parliament or Government the actions it intends to take, if any, in respect to the decision of the Scottish Parliament.

“There remains an opportunity for the House of Commons to amend the Bill to reflect the views of the Scottish Parliament, in line with well-established constitutional principles and rules.”

Meanwhile Downing Street fears the UK Government could face defeat if Tory rebels back any of the 15 amendments made onto to the bill in the House of Lords.

Some of the tightest Commons votes are expected to be on amendments about the EU customs union, the EEA and the “meaningful vote” MPs have been promised on the final Brexit deal.

Insiders are “quietly reassured” that the Government has the numbers to face down pro-Remain Tory rebels however, according to the Guardian.

One source told the paper: “It will be close, but it will be done.”

It comes after senior Conservative MPs from across the Brexit divide joined forces to rally colleagues to back the Government over the crunch 48-hour period.

Former Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan Smith said Tories should “march in lockstep” behind the Prime Minister or risk ushering in a Labour government.

But anti-Brexit Tory grandee Ken Clarke said fellow rebels should “rescue” May from the grip of her pro-Brexit MPs.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer appealed to potential Conservative rebels, saying there was “a real chance for parliament to change the course of the Brexit negotiations and bring some order where there is real chaos”.

But Labour faces difficulty in keeping its own MPs in tow, especially on an amendment to keep the UK in the European Economic Area - the so-called ‘Norway model’ the party has rejected.

It has tabled a replacement amendment calling instead for a “new single market deal” with the EU, which infuriated anti-Brexit Labour MPs who back EEA membership.

Prominent MP Meg Hillier last night told BBC Radio 4 she would back the new amendment but still vote for EEA membership because it “gives us some flexibility”.

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