Rebellion threat to EU Withdrawal Bill

Posted by Warren Fyfe on December 13, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

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The government is facing the threat of a defeat by rebel backbenchers when MPs vote on its flagship EU legislation.

Led by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve – a Conservative MP – the rebels want to insert a legal guarantee that MPs should get a vote on any final Brexit deal before it is finalised.

The amendment, which will be backed by Labour, will be debated later.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has written to Tory MPs but Mr Grieve said it was a “dialogue of the deaf”.

The government has no majority in the Commons and is vulnerable to a revolt by its MPs.

Ahead of the vote, Mr Davis wrote to all Conservative members on Wednesday morning promising “a meaningful vote” on Brexit.

He said there will be a vote in Parliament “as soon as possible” after an agreement with the EU is reached, adding: “Our entire approach to the bill has been to listen to MPs.”

The UK is due to leave the EU in March 2019, and the EU Withdrawal Bill is a key part of the government’s exit strategy.

Its effects include ending the supremacy of EU law and copying existing EU law onto the UK statute book, so that the same rules and regulations apply on Brexit day.

The bill is currently making its way through Parliament, where MPs from across the House of Commons have been trying to amend it.

So far it has emerged unscathed, but on Wednesday several rebels are lining up behind Mr Grieve’s bid to ensure a “meaningful vote” on any final deal agreed with Brussels.

Who will blink first?

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

For vulnerable governments, losing is potentially much more dangerous than the odd defeat for governments who are secure in the level of their support.

It’s in that context that the government faces a potential defeat on Wednesday on the Withdrawal Bill and must weigh up its best course of action.

The legislation has been grinding its way through the Commons for weeks. Tory rebels have threatened to vote against the government on a few different occasions.

This time however, with the rebellion led by one of the most unlikely troublemakers, the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, they really do mean business.

And while the government today has sought to say ministers are listening, government sources say they are looking to do what they can to make peace – as things stand, it’s feasible that the prime minister will be beaten in the Commons on Wednesday. Yes, a possible defeat on the eve of the European Council.

Read the rest of Laura’s blog

The government has already offered a take-it-or-leave-it vote on the final deal reached with Brussels and to enshrine the withdrawal agreement in a new Act of Parliament.

But Mr Grieve said the bill as currently worded would allow ministers to “circumvent” this agreed process and implement the agreement themselves without consulting MPs.

“This in no way prevents Brexit from taking place,” he told Sky News. “This is all readily curable but the government needs to listen.”

He added: “I have no desire to defeat my government. I am not a rebel. I don’t want to do that but the government needs to listen to what is being said and at the moment my impression of the last few days is that it seems to be a bit of a dialogue of the deaf.”

But Conservative Eurosceptics have reacted angrily to the threatened revolt.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “There comes a moment when really grandstanding has to stop. Tying the government’s hands in the way that he would wish to tie them so early on is quite wrong.”

But Labour, which has tabled a similar amendment, signalled its backing for the change in the bill’s wording.

Skip Twitter post by @Keir_Starmer

End of Twitter post by @Keir_Starmer

Speaking during a visit to Paris on Tuesday, Theresa May said there were MPs “looking for reassurance” about the EU bill, adding that “of course we’ve been listening and talking to those colleagues”.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42329118

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