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Prime Minister hit by dramatic resignation as MPs debate Brexit

22 June 2018

MPs are due to vote on key legislation as the EU (Withdrawal) Bill returns to the Commons, with Theresa May facing 48 hours of parliamentary warfare. Now the focus shifts to the price of the rebels' compliance, and it could be a high one for the beleaguered prime minister.

The prime minister doesn't have a Commons majority, and there are pro-EU rebels in her party who could side with Labour lawmakers to try to keep the amendments in place.

Mr Grieve confirmed he voted with the Government after receiving assurances, telling Sky News: "I am quite satisfied we are going to get a meaningful vote".

He said Mrs May had promised to table a fresh amendment based on his own proposal for Parliament to be consulted on the way forward if no deal is agreed by the end of November. It will be debated on Tuesday.

Anna Soubry, a pro-EU Conservative lawmaker, said she knew of one legislator who would not vote with their conscience because of "threats to their personal safety" and that of staff and family.

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The fallout from Britain's referendum vote in 2016 to leave the European Union has reshaped politics, deepening divisions within its main parties and raising tensions between its four nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As time ticks by, May can no longer kick decisions down the road, increasingly under pressure from European Union negotiators to come up with detailed positions not only on customs, but also on future trade relations and governance.

The resignation comes as Conservative MPs have been urged not to rebel against the government's attempts to kill off Lords amendments to the Brexit bill, including a call for parliament to decide what happens next if it does not like the UK-EU Brexit deal.

The fall-out from Tuesday's vote, which the government won to wipe out a Lords amendment that could have given parliament the power to force ministers back to the negotiating table, looked set to all but overshadow Wednesday's votes.

The disagreement centers on whether the government agreed to consider a specific clause of the rebel proposal that would hand parliament control of the Brexit process if ministers are unable to strike an exit deal by February 15, 2019. But a government official said they had just agreed to open talks on the basis of the rebel amendment.

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Outside parliament, around 60 protesters called on parliament to stop Brexit, saying they were cheated by the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union which they suspected had been influenced by Moscow.

The lower chamber of the UK parliament is expected to vote on Brexit-related laws approved by the House of Lords earlier so the vote in the House of Commons is widely seen as a test of stability for the UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

For the Remainer rebels, there was quiet confidence on Tuesday that they had all but ruled out a no-deal Brexit after the prime minister promised to put down a new amendment to give MPs more powers over the final stages of Brexit.

The cumulative effect of 14 Lords amendments which the Government is seeking to overturn could be to "make it impossible to deliver the smooth and orderly exit we want", he warned.

On Wednesday, parliament will consider a challenge to her commitment to leave the EU's single market and customs union, which will transform Britain's future trading relationships for many years to come. If she is defeated in the House of Commons, it will be yet another blow to a prime minister whose authority has been challenged several times since she lost the Conservative Party's majority in an ill-judged election a year ago.

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Supporters of this policy argue it would protect British jobs and go some way to preserving the invisible Irish border, while detractors point out it would prevent Britain from signing its own trade deals after it has left the EU.

Prime Minister hit by dramatic resignation as MPs debate Brexit