Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

In Brexit showdown, British PM May faces challenge over 'meaningful vote'

Melinda Barton | 12 June, 2018, 14:43

Remain-supporting Tory MP Phillip Lee has resigned as a justice minister over the United Kingdom government's policy on Brexit.

In a tweet this morning, he said, "I am incredibly sad to have had to announce my resignation as a minister in Her Majesty's Government so that I can better speak up for my constituents and country over how Brexit is now being delivered".

Justice minister Dr Phillip Lee MP quit the government today to allow him to campaign for MPs to be allowed a vote on the European Union withdrawal deal.

The Brexit Secretary warned that the UK's entire approach to negotiations with the EU is at risk of being undermined by amendments to its flagship EU Withdrawal bill.

"This isn't about narrow party politics", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Depriving parliament of a vote on the withdrawal deal 'would be something we would rightly criticised if it happened elsewhere, ' Lee said.

It is not clear whether that will win over potential rebels.

"But the message we send to the country through our votes this week is important".

There are two amendments that could prove particularly tough for the government to overturn.

May did not immediately address Lee's resignation. May pleaded with MPs, asking them to imagine how weak the government will appear to Brussels bureaucrats if they are defeated on this key piece of Brexit legislation.

"The goal of the EU Withdrawal Bill is simple - it is putting EU legislation into law to ensure a smooth and orderly transition as we leave".

On Wednesday, parliament will consider a challenge to her commitment to leave the EU's single market and customs union, which will transform Britain's future trading relationships for many years to come. She now relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party.

Yet, the Labour camp is split on the Brexit issue between pro-Leave MPs ready to vote with the government, and rebels who've come out against their own party's amendment to support the country's membership in the European Economic Area.

"There have been lots of meetings, we are keen to engage with all members of the parliamentary party", May's spokesman said.