GP minister resigns from Government over Brexit

Anti-Brexit demonstrators gather outside the Houses of Parliament in London England. Chris J Ratcliffe Getty Images

Ministers saw off a move to give MPs the decisive say on what happens over Brexit if they do not agree with the deal negotiated by the United Kingdom government.

On Tuesday, rebels in May's party who want parliament to have more say over the final outcome of negotiations on leaving the European Union extracted a major concession from the government in exchange for not voting against their leader.

Both Houses of Parliament must agree on the form of the EU Withdrawal Bill, and if the Lords insist on their amendment then the Commons will again be invited to reject it.

It has been two years since Britain voted to exit the European Union, and there are eight months until the U.K.is due to leave the bloc on March 29, 2019.

"I am very pleased that the government has listened to the concerns of many colleagues and has responded positively to the need to amend the bill further to provide a proper mechanism to enable Parliament to act, where necessary, if there is no deal or a deal is rejected by negotiations", Grieve said.

But if the amendments being debated in Parliament this week force a change to the government's negotiating strategy, the wound could yet reopen.

"I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill".

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "As has become a tradition in Brexit negotiations, the Tories have been forced to cobble together a compromise".

Prior to the votes, the government suffered its first ministerial resignation over Brexit as Phillip Lee quit the Ministry of Justice so he could speak out freely.

Dismissing the Government's compromise, she tweeted: "Merely issuing a statement in response would make it a meaningless final vote".

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It followed a strained parliamentary session, where the deep nationwide divisions opened up by Britain's vote to leave the European Union in 2016 were on display, with pro-EU lawmakers saying they had received death threats.

The government won the vote after last-minute horse-trading, some of it in the open on the floor of the House of Commons - some behind closed doors.

MPs started debating the amendments to the bill just after 1pm on June 12.

Mr Grieve confirmed he voted with the UK Government after receiving assurances, telling Sky News: "I am quite satisfied we are going to get a meaningful vote".

On Wednesday, parliament will consider a challenge to May's commitment to leave the EU's single market and customs union, which will transform Britain's future trading relationships for many years to come.

A paper laying out the U.K. government position on future relations, due to be published this month, has been delayed until July because the Cabinet can not agree on a united stance.

May's government is divided between Brexit-backing ministers such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who support a clean break with the European Union, and those such as Treasury chief Philip Hammond who want to keep closely aligned to the bloc, Britain's biggest trading partner.

Parliamentary debates about complex legal amendments rarely rose much heat, but passions run high over anything to do with Brexit.

Opposition Labour lawmaker Chuka Umunna had earlier accused Britain's tabloids of intimidation, holding up Tuesday's edition of the eurosceptic Daily Express.

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