British Prime Minister Theresa May has defused a rebellion in parliament over her Brexit plans after she was forced to compromise and hand lawmakers greater control over Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Before voting began on Tuesday, May held talks with more than 14 Tory rebels in her Commons office that lasted 11 hours, giving them personal assurances that she would agree to the broad thrust of their proposals.
One MP told The Independent, “It was real last minute stuff, she knew she was going to lose and had no choice.”
Another said, “She promised to go along with the spirit of Dominic’s plan – we will be looking for a set timetable, if not specifically by November and February, then some kind of specific timescale by which she must seek parliament’s approval for her plans in the case of no deal being reached.”
The premier’s concession may mean lawmakers could have more power if she fails to seal a Brexit deal, possibly resulting in a softer approach to Britain’s divorce. However, presently, MPs will not be able to send the government back into negotiations if they refuse to accept an agreement with the bloc.
Rebel MP Nicky Morgan told The Independent: “The whole point of what has come about is that we are going to have a process to this, something which does not simply allow us to drift into a hard Brexit.”
Meanwhile, Brexit campaigners are still concerned that the concession may enable the EU to force Britain into retaining the closest possible ties with the bloc by weakening the government’s hand in the talks.
Pro-EU lawmakers, however, described it as a signal that the government was moving towards ruling out a hardline “no deal” Brexit.
A Brexit department spokesman said Tuesday, “We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the government’s hands in the negotiation.”
The British government has faced fierce criticism both at home and by the EU for its lack of clarity on its Brexit strategy.