LIVE at 11:38
    • Latest Tweets:

Wednesday 13 June 2018

The government got through the first day of voting over the House of Lords’ amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, but not without sustaining damage, the extent of which will not be ascertained for some time.

One thing is almost certain. This government will not be able to break off talks with the EU and head directly for the exit door. But that tragedy was all but confirmed.

Yesterday, Remainers failed to defeat the all-important meaningful amendment bill, 324 to 298. The result had looked a bleak possibility earlier in the day when Justice Minister Philip Lee resigned over how “Brexit is currently being delivered”. He later abstained on the crucial vote, but rightly still faces deselection.

Theresa May’s victory over pro-EU MPs was a source of little joy, however. As reported in yesterday’s Brexit Brunch, horse trading between Tory Brexiteers on one side, Remainers on the other and the enfeebled government in the middle had been feverish, carrying on up until the session began in the Commons. Speculation as to what kind of arrangement will be made over a meaningful vote remains rife.

An all-out attack from 15 traitor MPs who swarmed into May’s office in the morning was only held off with a pledge by the prime minister for a second amendment to be introduced in the House of Lords.

The shape of that amendment remains to be seen, but be under no illusions, this is yet another can-kicking exercise – click here for a Nigel Farage lament. Arch-traitor Dominic Grieve had created leverage for his cause the night before by tabling an amendment to the Lords’ original version of the meaningful vote. In the event the original deal is rejected by Parliament – which it will now have every incentive to – it must set the terms of the renegotiation, subject to a second vote in February. Grieve has committed the double sin of also failing to consider the legislative agenda of other parts of Europe. His proposal is unworkable.

Nevertheless, May has promised to copy and paste it into a government backed amendment. She’s bought herself a few weeks to soften the Brexiteers. There’s talk of compromises in favour of our side. Hardline Tory Remainers insist no.

They have reason to be cocky, if the government’s version of the meaningful vote is seen as too pro-leave, Remainers will happily fall behind the original version. However, the traitors will also be aware that while they have been dug in ever since the referendum, the pro-independence wing of their party is a historic and powerful force. Open defiance of their party leadership would lead to its collapse, otherwise they would have voted for yesterday’s amendments rather than bullying May into yet another weak concession.