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Theresa May wins a key vote on Brexit bill, but it comes at a price

The legislation is to cover what will happen in a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in the House of Commons yesterday.
Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in the House of Commons yesterday.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE UK GOVERNMENT has won a crucial vote on its Brexit bill, which would have given parliament a veto on the final deal negotiated with Brussels.

The House of Commons has voted by 324 to 298 to overturn an amendment to the British government’s landmark EU Withdrawal Bill.

The amendment would have given parliament a veto over the final Brexit deal by removing Theresa May’s power to walk away from talks with Brussels, and send the bill back to be voted on by the House of Lords (who are unelected).

The Lords amendment would have given parliament the power to decide what happened next in the event of a ‘no-deal’, with the possibility of going back to the negotiating table or even staying in the bloc.

But in extraordinary scenes, ministers were forced to offer last-minute compromises to pro-European MPs before holding private talks in corners of the chamber as the debate raged on.

But to ensure she’d win the vote, May had to make minor concessions which could lead to Britain remaining tied to parts of the European Union after Brexit.

The government has agreed that the House of Commons will be able to direct Brexit negotiations if there’s no deal by 30 November this year. This could give MPs a veto on the final Brexit deal, or even force a second referendum.

Resignation

Earlier today, minister Phillip Lee, a close ally of Theresa May and prominent ‘Remainer’, resigned ahead of the Brexit vote. He reacted to the result of the vote this evening, saying:

Delighted that the Government has agreed to introduce an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which will give Parliament the voice I always wanted it to have in the Brexit process. This justifies my decision to resign and makes it a lot less painful.
However, I can only vote on the amendment that is before Parliament. I resigned because I could not support the Government’s opposition to the Lords’ amendment and still cannot. But the Prime Minister has given her word. I trust her and so I will abstain.

Potential impact of Brexit on Ireland

The Irish government will be watching these developments closely, as it gives an indication of how Brexit will impact on businesses and workers here.

A number of reports have been commissioned to find out the potential impact Brexit would have on Ireland and how prepared businesses are.

One of those reports examined 15 sectors identified as being most exposed to the implications of Brexit such as the agrifood, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.

It found that at the time the research was being undertaken (February to August 2017), only half of the sectors were actively taking action to mitigate the potential impacts of Brexit.

Another report recommended government interventions in relation to workers’ skills, particularly those involved in goods trade across international borders.

They range from recommendations on higher-level customs clearance training to raising awareness of opportunities in logistics, supply chain and transportation careers across all sectors.

- with reporting from AFP

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