Theresa May piling pressure on Labour Brexiteers to help her defeat Tory rebels on crunch vote

Posted On: 
20th June 2018

Theresa May is relying on Labour Brexiteers to help her defeat Tory rebels in a tense Commons showdown on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The vote will come down to the finely-balanced Commons arithmetic
Credit: 
PA Images

In a surprise move, Conservative whips are urging Labour MPs in Leave-backing constituencies to vote against their own party leadership on calls for Parliament to have a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal.

Westminster sources said they were even promising to go easy on Labour backbenchers by putting up "paper candidates" in future elections if they back the Government in this afternoon's vote.

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Theresa May to face down Brexit rebels as she rejects Lords compromise bid

The Prime Minister is facing yet another rebellion from around a dozen of her pro-EU backbenchers, who say MPs should have the power to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

But she hopes that enough Labour MPs will defy Jeremy Corbyn and back the Government to hand her a crucial victory.

One Labour source told PoliticsHome: "This vote looks extremely close. The Tories really could vote against May in numbers to give Parliament a meaningful vote.

"Imagine being the Labour MP that gives her a wafer thin majority. They would basically be saying that they trust her word when all past experience proves that it isn’t worth the paper she won’t write it on."

The latest twist in the Brexit saga comes after the House of Lords overwhelmingly backed an amendment on Monday which would give Parliament the power to block a no deal Brexit - something the Prime Minister said she “cannot accept”.

It mirrored an agreement that chief Tory rebel Dominic Grieve and fellow Conservative MPs thought they had struck with Theresa May last week, but which the Prime Minister ditched after it was opposed Brexiteers.

Number 10 has insisted it will stick to its guns, with the Prime Minister's spokesperson arguing that the compromise amendment from the upper chamber would "undermine" talks with the EU.

But Tory rebels - including Anna Soubry and Dr Philip Lee, the minister who quit last week to defy the Government over Brexit - have also insisted they will not budge.

Speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, Dr Lee said the rebels were standing firm: "My understanding is that the position taken by colleagues is solid."

AMENDABLE MOTION

The vote will come down to the finely-balanced Commons arithmetic after Mrs May lost her majority in the snap general election last year.

The Lords clause would require ministers to lay an amendable motion in the Commons if there is no Brexit deal by February next year - allowing MPs to potentially extend the Article 50 process or call a second referendum.

Ministers have allowed parliament a symbolic vote but do not want any motion to be amendable.

Mr Grieve said yesterday: “I am hopeful the government will listen to what has come back from the Lords and we may be able to achieve some form of sensible compromise...

“The differences between us is not very great, but it is a significant difference. It is absolutely right Parliament cannot micromanage the government's negotiating.”

He added: “To be absolutely clear, if this amendment was carried in the Commons, it would not force the government to do something.”

'CANNOT ACCEPT'

The Prime Minister's spokesperson said yesterday: "We cannot accept the amendment on a meaningful vote agreed in the Lords.

“Agreeing to amendable motions would allow parliament to direct the Government’s approach to exiting the EU, binding the Prime Minister’s hands and making it harder to secure a good deal for the UK.

"It also does not meet the reasonable tests set out last week by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and any new amendment must respect the referendum result and cannot undermine the negotiations or undermine the constitutional role of Parliament and Government."