The lesson of today's government climbdown: we're likely heading for soft Brexit

May pleads for unity on crucial Brexit votes as warnings of Tory rebellion gather pace

A Conservative MP has resigned from his ministerial role ahead of a crucial Brexit vote in parliament.

"The Brexit secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet - not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of parliament and government in negotiating global treaties, and respecting the referendum result".

Potential rebels fell into line after Solicitor General Robert Buckland said ministers were ready to "engage positively" with their concerns before the Bill returns to the Upper House next Monday.

The issue seen as most likely to provoke a rebellion was that of giving MPs a "meaningful vote" on the final Brexit deal.

The government's eleventh hour amendment, lifted in large parts from Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve's own proposal and to be presented to the Lords on Monday, is expected to give MPs the right to veto the government's strategy if it fails to secure a political agreement with the European Union by 30 November.

Despite many Conservative MPs who backed Remain in the referendum, just two rebelled against the government on a meaningful vote.

Rebels said May had assured them the government would accept two parts of Grieve's amendment; and immediately open talks on a third, "part c", which would allow MPs to direct the government, if no deal is reached by February next year.

In the last few days Remainers have been playing down the chances of a government defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill, as they keep their powder dry for the forthcoming Trade and Customs Bills.

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The government says lawmakers should be offered a choice only between its final deal and no deal at all.

If the government fails to pass the bill as it is, it will be forced to change what it asks for in negotiations with the European Union -undermining May's position and possibly threatening her job as Prime Minister.

Further clashes were expected on Wednesday during debate on amendments relating to how closely Britain stays aligned with the EU's economy after leaving. The Daily Express thundered: "Ignore the will of the people at your peril".

The government fears a weakened negotiating position.

'They want us to deliver on Brexit and build a brighter future for Britain as we take back control of our money, our laws and our borders'.

They have an ace up their sleeve as they go into talks with the government: if May reneges on her pledge, pro-EU members of the House of Lords will amend her legislation again.

"That was the decision of the British people. and whatever we do, we're not going to reverse that", he told the BBC.

Theresa May is facing one of the biggest tests of her leadership, with Tory rebels threatening to vote against their own party to force through amendments to the bill.

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