It’s ‘as you were’ for Brexit, as the Tory soft Brexiteers, placated earlier in the week by Theresa May, now find themselves sidelined again – with the PM accused of reneging on the deal to give MPs a meaningful vote on Brexit.
May thought she had convinced most rebel MPs, to back her in a key vote on changes to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill Tuesday night by giving them assurances on the so-called Grieve amendment. Named after Tory MP Dominic Grieve, who tabled it, the Grieve amendment to the bill would give parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal negotiated with the EU.
The assurances resulted in putting down the potential rebellion, and saw May’s Brexit amendments carry the day. The Tory party was peaceful, if only for a night. Come Thursday evening they were once again at each other’s throats.
Remainer, Anna Soubry MP, who joined Ken Clarke MP as the only two Tories to vote against the government on Tuesday’s vote, accused the Prime Minister of “siding with the hard Brexiteers” in the Conservatives, saying that colleagues who had agreed to the compromise would now feel “badly let down.”
She hailed Grieve as a “hero” for supporting a final say on Brexit.
Speaking on why she voted against the government, Soubry tweeted “I voted in favour of the Lords amendment because I feared she would not be able to deliver on her promise because she won’t see off the no deal hard Brexiteers.”
She has since accused the government of “serious betrayal” by reneging on the promised compromise.
Dominic Grieve should be hailed a hero for what he has achieved for democracy. Deal or no deal Parliament will have a meaningful vote and to be clear there will be no hard #Brexit when the EUWithdrawal Bill is passed.
— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) June 14, 2018
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Soubry said: “This amendment has changed so everything that said we would get that meaningful vote – it is now completely meaningless.
“It all changed without Dominic Grieve or anyone else being consulted. That is a very serious betrayal, I would suggest, of one of the most well-respected and senior politicians in parliament. I find it quite astonishing – I thought we were agreed.”
Speaking on BBC One’s Question Time, Dominic Grieve MP, said the government’s amendment “made the motion unamendable, contrary to the usual methods of the House of Commons. And therefore it cannot be accepted.”
Asked what he would do next, Grieve said: “I think a group of us will talk further to the government and try to resolve it. I hope they listen to me when I say I don’t understand why you’ve done this last-minute switch,” he added.
During the debates on the bill, Grieve had proposed that parliament should direct Brexit if the government failed to reach an agreement with the European Commission by February 2019 – a hard Brexit. The most recent Tory amendment, however, does not include this.
Calls for such intervention were refuted by top Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who, speaking in the House of Commons, said: “The Commons is not and cannot be an executive body. Calls for MPS to have a ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit are nothing to do with parliamentary scrutiny; they are about stopping Brexit.
“Our constitution already empowers the legislature to provide a check on the government,” he added.
Next week the bill will return for debate in the House of Lords, with both the government amendment and Mr. Grieve’s original amendment up for debate. It will then be returned to the Commons for a fresh showdown with MPs.
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