PRU / AFP / HO
Theresa May, seen in a video grab by footage of the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU), suffered the first major parliamentary defeat on Brexit Wednesday
British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May in a key Brexit vote on Wednesday, asserting their authority on the EU exit process by demanding a final say on the divorce deal. Eleven members of May’s Conservative party joined with opposition lawmakers to inflict the government’s first defeat over the flagship EU (Withdrawal) Bill, sparking huge cheers in the House of Commons.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dominic Grieve, a former attorney general, had warned: “It’s too late.” His amendment would require new legislation to be implemented in Brussels in March 2019. It passed by 309 votes to 305, with a twelfth Conservative MP effectively abstaining by voting in both camps. “Victory on Grieve amendment!” Tweeted Keir Starmer, The Labor Party’s Brexit spokesman, heralding the “courageous Tories” who voted with the opposition. The vital role played by Conservative rebels dominated British headlines, described as a humiliating “Tory rebellion” by the Guardian and “Mutiny in the Commons” by The Daily Telegraph. The Daily Mail went on still more, decrying “11 self-consumed malcontents” whom it accused of betraying their leader and Brexit voters alike. The government said it was “disappointed” by the vote, adding: “We will now determine whether we are going to fulfill our vital purpose.” – Hampering ‘smooth’ Brexit – The defeat was a blow to the world before the EU. This deal was a rare moment of triumph for the prime minister, who has endured a turbulent few months ago. MPs’ success at defeating May in Westminster was described as “A good day for democracy” by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit pointman. “British Parliament Takes Control Against European Politics,” he wrote on Twitter.
AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
The Commons vote spells further domestic trouble ahead May, as parliament and her Conservative party are divided over Britain’s future relationship with the EU
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is intended to formally end Britain’s membership of the bloc as well as its exit from the European Union. It also powers the powers to amend the laws as they move across the board of scrutiny, to address any technical glitches.
But MPs objected to the fact that these so-called “Henry VIII” powers also extend to the implementation of the final deal on the terms of Brexit and a transition. Before the vote, Brexit Secretary David Davis promised MPs that no withdrawal would be implemented until a vote in parliament. Parliament would then be asked to approve a further piece of legislation to implement the deal. But ministers insisted that they should not be allowed to reside in this area. “That could be a very late stage in the proceedings, which could not be more effective than the European Union that we wish to have,” May told MPs earlier. Gina Miller, a campaigner who successfully fought last year for MPs in the Brexit process, said after the vote: “Parliamentary sovereignty wins the day!” – ‘Blank check’ – After months of wrangling, May secured a deal last week on three priorities of the separation – Britain’s financial settlement, the Irish border and the rights of expatriates. The European Parliament on Wednesday gave back to the deal which, if approved at the summit later this week, should now allow the negotiations to move to trade. But the Commons vote spells further domestic trouble ahead for May, as parliament and her Conservative party is divided over Britain’s future relationship with the EU. Grieve had warned that the ministers were asking for “a blank check to the government to achieve something that, at the moment, we do not know what it is”. Stephen Hammond, Stephen Hammond, from his role as Conservative party vice chairman. Hammond said he had “a meaningful vote”.