Ministers win key Brexit bill vote after concession

By BBC

(BBC) – The government has avoided a major defeat on its Brexit bill by 324 votes to 298 after a late concession.

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 UK government.

Following a meeting with Theresa May, Tory MPs said they had been promised “input” into what the government would do if the UK faced a no-deal scenario.

But one minister told the BBC he would commit only to “further discussions”.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland said the government remained “open-minded”, but this may or may not result in it coming forward with new proposals in the coming days.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she had been told by a government source that no actual concessions had been agreed and the only agreement was to keep talking.

Tuesday’s Commons debate marked the start of the government’s attempts to undo most of the changes to its EU Withdrawal Bill that were put forward by the House of Lords.

The most contentious was the bid to give Parliament the power to tell the government what to do if the Brexit deal was voted down or no agreement was reached.

While in the end, only two Tory MPs – Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry – voted against the government, there were clashes over how much of a say Parliament should get as the UK leaves the EU, with one side accusing the other of trying to “wreck” Brexit – and being accused in turn of being “zealots” who wanted to sideline Parliament.

Seeking to placate would-be Conservative rebels, government frontbenchers offered to meet them to discuss their concerns, and agreed to “engage positively” on a “compromise” put forward by one of them, former attorney general Dominic Grieve.

Details of precisely what this will involve will be agreed in the coming days when the bill is due to return to the House of Lords and ministers could table a fresh amendment.

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