Theresa May dodges second Commons embarrassment with compromise amendment
Theresa May will avoid another embarrassing Commons defeat by backing a compromise amendment allowing MPs to change the date of Brexit, also supported by pro-remain Conservatives.
The amendment leaves the current Brexit deadline - 11pm on March 29, 2019 - in place but, rather than enshrining it in law, allows Parliament the "power to amend the definition of 'exit day", if the UK can agree with the EU to extend Article 50 negotiations.
The Tories who last week rebelled in order to give Parliament a “meaningful“ vote on the final Brexit deal issued a statement via Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, describing the compromise as a "welcome resolution to the problem”.
"By restoring flexibility to altering the date of exit if needed, [the amendments] reduce the risk of a chaotic Brexit through last-minute failure which might be readily curable by a change to the date. We are pleased the government has responded to our concerns and will support these amendments," Grieve said.
Labour’s Keir Starmer said: “Rumours that PM will now U-turn on gimmick exit day amendment: forced to get a Tory MP to amend her own amendment before its put to the vote.”
The amendment was tabled by four senior backbenchers: Bernard Jenkin and Geoffrey Cox from the Leave camp; Jeffrey Lefroy and Oliver Letwin for Remain.
Stephen Hammond, sacked as the vice chairman of the Conservatives after rebelling last week, said: "None of us wanted to vote against our party but it was a matter of principle. I am delighted that there is a proposal that unites the Conservatives and all of us will be supporting it next week."