British PM avoids Brexit defeat in knife-edge parliament vote

A casket team carries the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Robert E. Meyers a Korean War soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 2015. Meyers' remains were identified decades after his unit was involved in combat operations near Sonchu North Korea

A casket team carries the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Robert E. Meyers a Korean War soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 2015. Meyers' remains were identified decades after his unit was involved in combat operations near Sonchu North Korea

The strained parliament session underlined deep divisions over Britain's European Union exit. "But if we face the prospect of a "meaningless process" rather than a "meaningful vote", Parliament will be enraged".

Passions ran high in Tuesday's three-hour debate, when angry eurosceptics accused their rivals of trying to undermine the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU. He said he would vote against the prime minister.

In Westminster, a government fearing defeat in the Commons made concessions to rebel Tory MPs to give the house more of a veto than it's ever had over Brexit negotiations.

Pro-EU Tories want guarantees that Parliament will be able to stop the government taking Britain out of the EU without a deal, if negotiations break down in Brussels. The news they all voted against is no surprise, as the party supports not leaving the European Union altogether.

Following its defeat, the government's own amendment on the so-called meaningful vote will go forward to the House of Lords for debate next week - but with some changes.

"It completely undermines the Government's negotiating position with the European Union".

"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 worldwide treaties, and respecting the referendum result".

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.

The Government's compromise is that a minister would come to the House within 28 days of a deal being rejected to tell MPs what will happen next, but an amendment tabled by former attorney general Dominic Grieve would insist on a binding Commons motion.

The government was putting a combative spin on the concessions Tuesday evening: "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 worldwide treaties, and respecting the referendum result", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement. Theresa May has said no British government would ever agree to a hard border there.

"We are asking members of parliament to abide by the referendum result, our manifesto commitment and to back our country", Andrew Bridgen, Conservative lawmaker and Brexit campaigner, told Reuters.

Justice minister Phillip Lee is the first minister to resign over the government's Brexit policy.

They backed Theresa May, as they have to date on most issues, although they have previously indicated that some softer Brexit options would be acceptable as long as they didn't divide Northern Ireland from Britain in any way.

MPs will on Wednesday debate a series of other amendments to the bill, which if passed, would seek to force May to change course and negotiate to stay inside a customs union and the single market after Brexit.

If May 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 last year's election.

"This isn't about narrow party politics", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

She said unless there was a "meaningful vote" Parliament would be left with "the grim choice between a poor deal and exit with no deal at all".

Those developments are likely to lower expectations of a Bank of England interest rate rise in August, given the central bank has said it wants to see more wage pressures before it increases borrowing costs.

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