Brexit Bill live: Parliament battle commences over Lords’ amendments

Brexit showdown LIVE: MPs debate Lords’ amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill

  • Theresa May is attempting to crush amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill  
  • The Brexit bill is returning to the House of Commons from the House of Lords
  • There are 15 proposed changes – including allowing MPs to vote on a final deal 
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Theresa May will go into battle to save her Brexit legislation today as the EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Mrs May is seeking to crush amendments made by the House of Lords, which could delay and potentially derail Britain’s break from the European Union.

The Cabinet will meet early on Tuesday, before the Parliament decides whether or not MPs should be given a vote on the final deal struck with the EU in the autumn, along with 14 other proposed changes.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s parliament has refused to give consent to key Brexit legislation and Ireland’s prime minister is seeking to delay Brexit altogether.

The week is billed as the toughest in Theresa May’s premiership.

Will she be able to save Brexit?

MailOnline brings you the latest updates here. 

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MPs are now limited to speaking for four minutes only… 

Conservative MP Sir William Cash caused uproar in the House when he said the ‘meaningful vote’ argument was simply an attempt to overturn Brexit.

He ordered MPs to remember they are the ones who are voted for ‘by the people’ and reminded them they should not be hiding behind the House of Lords for a decision.

He said: ‘I thought the whole argument with respect to the amendment that Viscount Hailsham put forward was it was to do with the primacy of the House of Commons.

‘Why are we going back to the House of Lords for an opinion when this house voted 6 to 1 in favour of our having a referendum act at all?

‘It is complete nonsense, I would say junk, to suggest this amendment on the meaningful vote is not in fact an attempt to reverse the decision of the people.’

‘There is no way the House of Commons, 650 members of Parliament, can arrive with a motion as to proscribe what the Government will do in relation to negotiations. It is not simply a question of whether or not we are departing from normal constitutional procedures. This amendment is complete nonsense.’

Solicitor General Robert Buckland intervened during Dominic Grieve’s speech in a last-ditch bid to remove the prospect of defeat over the ‘meaningful vote’ amendments.

He offered to arrange to meet Mr Grieve on Wednesday to see how they can ‘build’ on the Government’s amendment, adding: ‘Overnight I have read very carefully the amendment that he tabled and I think, for example, with regards to 5a there is much merit in the approach that he urges this House to adopt.

‘Can I say I need more time to think about the other parts of his amendment but by indicating my position on a key part of it, I am indicating that the Government is willing to engage positively ahead of the Lords stages.’

Speaker John Bercow has imposed a six-minute limit on speeches concerning the EU withdrawal bill. 

Mr Bercow said he wanted to allow as many MPs as possible to have their say. 

Jacob Rees Mogg said there was no need to amend the EU withdrawal bill as MPs can have a vote of no confidence in the Government in February. 

However, both Dominic Grieve and Justine Greening said bringing down the government five weeks before Brexit day would be reckless. 

He said he would accept the vote for the final deal and would work towards Brexit. 

‘There has to be a vote on the final deal.’ 

Sir Edward Leigh described efforts to change the EU Withdrawal bill are ‘wrecking amendments’ looking to frustrate ‘the will of the people’. 

He said European negotiators want to force the UK government to a cliff edge to prevent Britain leaving the European Union. 

Threats of abuse will result in at least one MP not voting with their conscience on key Brexit legislation for fear of reprisals, a former minister has said.

Conservative Anna Soubry, who is a Remainer and has herself been a target of abuse, raised concerns ahead of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returning to the Commons.

She said: ‘To my knowledge at least one honourable member on these benches will today and tomorrow not vote in accordance with their conscience because of threats to their personal safety, to members of their parliamentary staff and members of their family.’

Father of the House Ken Clarke said the Government is not listening to the House of Commons and that MPs may as well be told to ‘get lost’.

He said: ‘The argument we’re undermining the prime minister’s negotiations is ridiculous.’

He also said not enough time is being given to the debate, as the exit date looms.

PM faces knife-edge votes with Tory rebels threatening to defeat the government over demands for MPs to get a ‘meaningful vote’

The biggest rebellion of the day could be caused by the ‘meaningful vote’ – the right to a final say by parliament on the final Brexit deal.

David Davis will not be moved on the matter.

‘A meaningful vote is not the ability to reverse the decision of the referendum,’ he said. 

‘We will put in front of Parliament the decision for them to vote… after that there will be a process of primary legislation to put the actual details of it in Parliament so Parliament will actually decide on the application of the detail.’ 

Conservative MP George Freeman has taken issue with the ‘meaningful vote’ along with many others who want parliament to be able to have a say on the final deal

Dominic Grieve’s 11th-hour amendment attempt on the ‘meaningful vote’ is tackled by David Davis.

The Brexit secretary said any amendment put forward to address what would happen in a no deal scenario must never undermine the government’s negotiating position.

He said: ‘We must, under all circumstances respect the result of the referendum.’

Mr Davis went on to reject the Lords’ amendments which stipulated there should be no fixed exit date.

He told MPs that the Commons had ‘already reached a sensible position’ on this issue.

MPs are expected to spend more than 12 hours debating 15 amendments put forward by the House of Lords on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Government has made five further amendments in lieu.

Two six-hour sessions will take place in the House of Commons on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the first round of voting beginning later today, at 4.15pm and at 7.15pm.

EUR welcome! Remainers camp outside Parliament to show mass support for Brussels, well, sort of

Hardcore Remainers planned to camp outside Parliament last night for a 36-hour protest over the British split with Brussels.

So upset by the divorce, the flag-waving groups SODEM, No10Vigil, EU Flag Mafia and Stop Brexit have assembled in Westminster, the Daily Express reports.

A statement said: ‘The protests have been devised to provide visually compelling scenes of pro-EU support and fresh images to the media.’

If visually compelling means a dozen flag-wearing EU supporters, they achieved their aim. 

Remainer MP Anna Soubry said at least one MP will not vote because they have been threatened.

Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said: ‘Any threats of violence or intimidation are utterly unacceptable to the Government.’

A campaign spearheaded by Elizabeth Webster has lost its High Court challenge over the legality of Article 50

Mr Banks told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee there is a ‘desire to change’ across the US and the UK.

He denies colluding with Russia to undermine Brexit.

Banks added: ‘When we talk about staying in the Single Market, it’s almost like being in prison with the door open and the prisoner’s afraid to leave their cell. There’s been 45 years of brainwashing, and it’s going to collapse in on itself.’

Theresa May emerges from Downing Street and heads for the Houses of Parliament 

Downing Street has offered MPs a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final Brexit deal.

Today, it will not offer further compromise, it has been claimed. 

Andy Wigmore and Arron Banks burst into laughter as they were questioned by the Government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The pair deny working with Russia to undermine the Brexit referendum.

Mr Wigmore says he was talking about bananas and Banks said he was there for the boozy lunch.

The committee questioning whether Andy Wigmore and Aaron Banks attempted to undermine the Government on Brexit in meetings with Russia, has received an obscure explanation.

Former diplomat Andy Wigmore, who represented the interests of Belize in 2014 said he met with Russians to discuss business.

He said: ‘Can I explain why I met them? I’m a diplomat for a small country called Belize… it needed someone to buy its bananas. It wasn’t anything to do with the referendum.’

Meanwhile, Mr Banks said: ‘I’m frankly sick and tired of this.

‘You’ve got a vested interest in trying to discredit the Brexit campaign.’

MPs will vote on remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) after leaving the European Union – a so-called Norway deal.

This would mean keeping all EU rules and regulations around the Single Market to keep access to it.

Jeremy Corbyn wants a bespoke deal instead, but his own MPs are said to be rallying behind the Norway model.

Theresa May isn’t the only one in trouble today.. 

Phillip Lee is not the only Tory turning, writes Laura Kuenssberg

Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, writes the Phillip Lee may spark a rebellion.

She said: ‘He is categorically not the only Tory MP among the younger ranks who is upset and irritated by how the government is handling Brexit.

‘Another in that group told me last week, ‘the horses are circling the paddock – everyone is getting their websites ready’, the implication that leadership contests are not so far away.’

Theresa May’s opponents, including Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, have seized on the resignation of Dr Phillip Lee to claim the Conservatives are losing control of their party.. 

Brexit bankrolling tycoon Arron Banks denies attempting to undermine the British Government during the referendum.

He admitted to boozy lunches in Russia.. where pork pies probably weren’t on the menu

Claims Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore attempted to influence Brexit are being investigated.

The pair ate pork pies offered by pro-Brexit supporters as they arrived to give evidence to the Digital Culture Media and Sport parliamentary committee

Addressing a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee on Monday the Prime Minister attempted to stop an embarrassing defeat which will be seized upon by Brussels.

She said: ‘We must think about the message Parliament will send to the European Union this week.

‘I am trying to negotiate the best deal for Britain. I am confident I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the EU which is as frictionless as possible.

‘But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be u I am trying to negotiate the best deal for Britain. I am confident I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the EU which is as frictionless as possible.

‘But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be  ndermined.’

Penny Mordaunt, Navy reservist, Portsmouth MP and international development secretary, campaigned for a Leave vote in the EU referendum.

The minister has insisted ‘common sense will prevail’ over Britain’s break from the bloc.

Meanwhile in Russia

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the government is ‘very seriously’ examining claims Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore tried to influence Brexit.

Two ministers in two departments are attempting to uncover if there was an attempt to influence the government during the Brexit campaign.

It was revealed earlier this week that Mr Banks, 52, met with Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko three times since 2015, and made a trip to Russia shortly before the referendum.

Mr Javid said the Government is taking the matter ‘very seriously’. 

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove met on the steps of Downing Street this morning.

The foreign secretary and the environment chief have put on a united front for the sake of Brexit, months after Mr Gove torpedoed Johnson’s Tory leadership bid and Boris was tipped to be looking to topple the PM.

Both say they are firmly behind Theresa May.

Dr Phillip Lee’s resignation was announced over social media

Theresa May has got off to a bad start after Tory MP for Bracknell resigned.

Dr Phillip Lee said: ‘I am incredibly sad to have had to announce my resignation as a minister in Her Majesty’s Government so that I can better speak up for my constituents and country over how Brexit is currently being delivered.’

Only seven votes could see the prime minister defeated on the Brexit Bill.

Brexit could be DELAYED if negotiations are still deadlocked by October, says Irish PM Leo Varadkar

Ireland’s premier has raised the prospect of delaying Brexit to allow more time to negotiate the UK’s exit deal.

Leo Varadkar said extending the March 29 departure date was among the ‘different scenarios’ being considered if there is no breakthrough in talks.

Britain has said an EU summit in October is the target for having a deal in place on exit terms and future trade.

But the negotiations have hit deadlock, with both sides seemingly unwilling to give ground over trade terms and the issue of how to keep a soft Irish border.

Brexit Secretary David Davis warned Tory rebels that any meaningful vote was not a way of reversing the 2016 referendum result.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘A meaningful vote is not the ability to reverse the decision of the referendum.

‘We will put in front of Parliament the decision for them to vote… after that there will be a process of primary legislation to put the actual details of it in Parliament so Parliament will actually decide on the application of the detail.’

The amendments, which will be debated on over three sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, also include whether the UK should stay in the customs union or EEA.

It is this vote, expected on Wednesday evening, which could bring out the rebels.

And it’s a tense time for Theresa May.

The Prime Minister is far from guaranteed a win.

Even with the support of 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs, Mrs May has a working majority of just 13 in the Commons, which means she can be defeated by a rebellion of as few as seven Tory backbenchers.

But a reverse rebellion could save the day if Labour leavers breach their own party whip to back the Government.

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill will translate all EU law into British statute so there are no holes in the law book at the point of Brexit.

However, the House of Lords have raised 15 amendments which will go before the Commons today and an explosive debate is expected.

Challenges from the Lords include the Government’s wish to use ‘Henry VIII’ powers to force through changes without parliamentary scrutiny and a final vote on the Brexit deal being called ‘the meaningful vote’.

PM faces nailbiting votes on flagship Bill despite Tory rebels giving her a ‘stay of execution’ over customs union membership demand

Theresa May is fighting to keep her Brexit plans on the road today as she faces a series of nailbiting votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The Prime Minister’s flagship legislation is on a knife edge as the government bids to reverse a slew of amendments imposed by the House of Lords.

 

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