Theresa May avoids damaging Brexit defeat in House of Commons

Conservative rebels had put forward a proposal to give MPs a 'meaningful vote' in the event of a 'no deal' situation

Theresa May avoids damaging Brexit defeat in House of Commons

Theresa May. Picture by: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May has avoided a damaging Brexit defeat in the House of Commons, after the British government offered a last minute concession to Conservative rebels.

MPs were this afternoon voting on an amendment from rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve, which proposes giving the British parliament a 'meaningful vote' if no Brexit deal is reached with Brussels.

If approved, the amendment would have potentially given politicians an opportunity to block a 'no deal' Brexit.

However, Mr Grieve himself withdrew support for his amendment after a ministerial statement issued shortly before the vote, with the statement recognising the ability of MPs to hold the government to account.

The Conservative rebel said the statement was an "obvious acknowledgement of the sovereignty of this place over the executive".

In comments quoted by The Guardian, he added that it was a "compromise without breaking the government" - suggesting "we were getting quite close to that".

The government - which had opposed the motion - ultimately won the vote by 319 votes to 303, despite six Conservative MPs voting in favour of the amendment.

The overall EU Withdrawal Bill will now return to the House of Lords, which has repeatedly challenged the government's proposed legislation.

"Brexit fudge"

Opposition politicians in the UK criticised the agreement reached between the government and Tory rebels.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described it as "another dollop of Brexit fudge with Tory party interests yet again taking priority over the interests of the country".

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary called it a 'real disappointment', but insisted: "We will take every opportunity to ensure that we get a fully meaningful vote on the Article 50 deal."

However, Jacob Rees-Mogg said the result marked a "happy occasion when all may claim an element of success".

There was some controversy after it emerged Conservative party whips would not allow votes to be "nodded through" - a conventional practice which allows physically ill MPs to be present for votes from cars or ambulances in the courtyard rather than the chamber itself.

It meant the heavily pregnant Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson turned up to vote despite being past her due date.

One Labour MP, meanwhile, was released from hospital to vote:

Additional reporting by IRN