UK Government sees off early challenges to Brexit bill but could face rebellion over date

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 November 2017 in News

Devolved parliaments denied veto as early opposition amendments to EU Withdrawal Bill are defeated

Ken Clarke - Parliament TV

The UK Government saw off challenges to its EU Withdrawal Bill on the first of eight days of debate and amendments.

The Conservatives relied on DUP support to defeat opposition amendments last night amid heated exchanges, although several high profile Conservatives have indicated they will rebel over Theresa May's attempt to shrine the exact date of leaving the EU in law.

Among the defeated amendments was a Plaid Cymru motion to give Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a veto over the process, which was rejected by 318 votes to 52.

An SNP amendment to commit UK courts to pay "due regard" to European law after Brexit was also defeated.

Joanna Cherry QC MP put forward the amendment.

“This is hugely disappointing, and further proof the UK  government is intent on using Brexit as a means to roll back hard won rights and protections," she said.

“Without giving due regard to decisions of the European Court after exit day, there is no provision to ensure or even encourage that UK rights keep pace with EU rights. We could see our own rights lagging behind international standards."

However, the UK Government is expected to face a rebellion over its own amendment to fix the Brexit date and time at 23:00 GMT on 29 March 2019.

The Daily Telegraph has named 15 rebels on its cover, branding them 'Brexit mutineers'. These include several former ministers and Scottish Conservative MP Paul Masterton.

The Renfrewshire MP tweeted: "Placing the date and time of exit on the Bill weakens and undermines the Gov negotiating position and blocks a flexibility we may want to use. It is a symbolic not substantial amendment. It is unnecessary, unhelpful, and when it comes to a vote on day 8, I won't support it."

Father of the House Ken Clarke said setting the date could "be positively harmful to the national interest", while Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve called the proposal "mad".

So far 15 Tory MPs have been named, which wipes out Theresa May's fragile majority.

Bernard Jenkin, a senior Leave-supporting MP, said: "Anyone who voted for Article 50, but then does not wish to fix the date, they are open to the charge that they do not actually want us to leave the European Union."

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