May fends off Brexit defeat in House vote

Reuters
Prime Minister Theresa May won a crucial Brexit vote in parliament yesterday, keeping her deeply divided government's plans to end Britain's partnership with EU on track.
Reuters

Prime Minister Theresa May won a crucial Brexit vote in parliament Wednesday, keeping her deeply divided government’s plans to end Britain’s more than 40 years of partnership with the European Union on track.

After pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve said he would support the government’s proposal for a “meaningful vote” in parliament on any Brexit deal, a potential rebellion that could have undermined May’s authority looked to be averted.

May adopted a high-risk strategy by facing off with rebels in her Conservative Party, and it paid off. One lawmaker said May had no option but to take them on or risk their rebellion growing as she cuts ties with the EU.

But the battle over her Brexit blueprint, or EU withdrawal bill, may be a taste of things to come.

May needs to get several other bills through parliament to prepare Britain for life outside the EU, a momentous change to its trading and political relationships after 45 years in the bloc.

Some of her opponents on Brexit may simply have decided to keep their powder dry for later fights on issues such as future trading ties and customs arrangements with the bloc before Britain’s scheduled departure in March next year.

“I am prepared to accept the government’s difficulty and in the circumstances to accept the form of amendment it wants,” Grieve told lawmakers, to sighs from opposition Labour Party members who had hoped to defeat the government.

Sterling rose slightly against the dollar after Grieve backed away from a confrontation over May’s proposal for the role of parliament if she fails to negotiate an exit agreement with the EU or if lawmakers reject any deal she seals with Brussels.


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