Government avoids defeat on Brexit bill

GETTYThe furious Brexit Secretary agreed with Steve Baker and Suella Braverman to form a pact

It's been revealed ex-Tory ministers Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry rebelled against the government by voting against the motion to disagree with Lords amendment, created to give Parliament a vote to prevent a "no deal" Brexit.

Theresa May has averted an embarrassing defeat over the government's EU Withdrawal Bill by giving MPs a say on the next steps for Brexit if she fails to secure a withdrawal agreement by the end of November.

"The Government's amendment today provides for a meaningful vote".

They subsequently warned they will not be easily bought off, while Tory Brexiteers urged ministers not to concede any ground.

At times ministers engaged in public negotiations from the despatch box, with leading Conservative rebel Dominic Grieve and other rebels later leaving the chamber with the whips to discuss the concessions.

May had feared a rebellion by her Conservative MPs over the motion, one of 15 submitted by the unelected upper House of Lords on which lawmakers will vote over the coming two days.

In a major climbdown, they said that ministers would consider key aspects of the controversial amendment by Mr Grieve.

"We have now removed every incentive from the European Union for doing a deal by the end of November", one senior United Kingdom government official said.

"We had a personal assurance that we would find a way of addressing the concerns which are encapsulated in these amendments", Mr Grieve said as voting continued on Tuesday.

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"We will be talking to the government immediately after this in order to find a common way forward".

Her fellow Conservative backbencher Stephen Hammond said: "Parliament must be able to have its say in a "no deal" situation". "I can not support the government's decision to oppose this amendment because doing so breaches such fundamental principles of human rights and parliamentary sovereignty", he said.

Earlier Phillip Lee - who quit as a justice minister to oppose the government on Brexit - received a round of applause after he set out his stance.

As the clock ticked down to the vote, two rebels stood up to say they were satisfied with what the government had offered them.

Phillip Lee, who resigned this morning, gave an impassioned speech from the "naughty corner" on the backbenches - flanked by Remainers including Bob Neill, Nicky Morgan, receiving congratulations for his decision by Soubry and Sarah Wollaston.

MPs voted down the Lords amendment on "sifting regulations" by a majority of 22.

It is thought that both the government and the Remainer group of Tory MPs consider the outcome to be a success.

Passions ran high in Tuesday's three-hour debate, when angry eurosceptics accused their rivals of trying to undermine the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU. The strength of this commitment is yet to be seen in writing - and the Brexit department is still insisting it has not given up control of the negotiations - but the anti-Brexit rebels showed they have the numbers to force a defeat should the government renege on its pledge.

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