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PM suffers 'humiliating' defeat on Brexit bill

By Greg Heffer, Political Reporter
The Government has suffered its first defeat on key Brexit legislation after 11 Tory MPs staged a rebellion to demand a "meaningful" vote on any divorce deal with the EU.
An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill was backed by 309 MPs, compared to 305 who supported the Government bill remaining unchanged.Ministers admitted Wednesday night's defeat was a "significant setback" but insisted it would not frustrate the Brexit process.However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described it as a "humiliating loss of authority" for the Prime Minister on the eve of her trip to Brussels, where she hopes EU leaders will approve the start of Brexit trade talks.In an immediate act of retribution by the Government, Tory MP Stephen Hammond - one of the rebels - was sacked as the vice chairman of the party after the vote.Meanwhile, Brexiteer MP Nadine Dorries demanded the 11 rebels be "deselected and never allowed to stand as a Tory MP ever again".
PM suffers 'humiliating' defeat on Brexit bill

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Grieve: disappointed 'government closed down discussion'
Nearly seven hours of debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill saw bad-tempered exchanges between Tory MPs, revealing the continuing splits between Leavers and Remainers on the Government benches.In the latter stages of the debate, ministers attempted to swerve a defeat by bringing forward a last-gasp concession with a promise of fresh limits on the powers contained in the bill.Justice minister Dominic Raab explained no statutory instrument approved under clause nine of the legislation would take effect until Parliament had voted on the final Brexit deal.The Government concession was ultimately enough to persuade two possible Tory rebels to back down.But Tory backbencher Dominic Grieve, who brought forward the victorious amendment to clause nine, told the Commons it was "too late" for a beefed-up Government salvage job as he pushed through a vote.
PM suffers 'humiliating' defeat on Brexit bill

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Starmer: 'The Prime Minister walked in to this defeat'
Efforts to avoid a defeat began as early as 5.30am when Brexit Secretary David Davis penned a letter to Tory MPs promising concessions on the Government's position.He also used a written parliamentary statement to repeat the Government's commitment to holding a meaningful vote on the final Brexit statement.But, at Prime Minister's Questions, Mrs May rejected a call from Tory rebel Anna Soubry to accept the amendment "in the spirit of unity", setting up the House of Commons showdown.
Mrs May said the wording of Mr Grieve's amendment could put at risk an "orderly and smooth exit from the EU".
PM suffers 'humiliating' defeat on Brexit bill

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Soubry: 'The mood is changing in the country'
Many of those MPs backing the amendment accepted the Government's promise of a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal but feared being left with a "take-it-or-leave-it" choice.Mr Corbyn claimed Parliament had "asserted itself" with Wednesday night's vote."The Prime Minister tried a power grab, tried to push through an EU Withdrawal Bill without proper parliamentary scrutiny and take powers away from Parliament," he said."Parliament resisted tonight and won a vote which says there has to be a proper decision by the British Parliament on the terms and what happens over the negotiations on Brexit."It's not all going to be left to David Davis on his own."The European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, who clashed with Mr Davis earlier this week, hailed a "good day for democracy".
PM suffers 'humiliating' defeat on Brexit bill

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This is a way 'to force a meaningful vote'
But the Government attempted to play down the impact of their defeat, with Mr Raab telling Sky News: "We lost this vote, we'll take another look."The key thing is it won't frustrate the Brexit process and we'll make sure we've got the right legislative toolkit to ensure that smooth Brexit we all want to see."Among the Tory rebels, Mr Grieve said he had "no option" but to push ahead with his amendment after the Government "closed down discussion" on responding to his demands last week.Ms Soubry told Sky News: "It was a stupid fight the Government fought and it fought very badly. I'm afraid they did themselves no favour."
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Government scrambles to avoid defeat on EU Withdrawal bill

Having won every other vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill up until now, the Government could face another defeat next week over its plan to write the Brexit date of 29 March, 2019 into law.Two Labour Brexit-supporting MPs, Frank Field and Kate Hoey, voted against their party's position to back the Government on Wednesday night.
news.sky.com
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