In Brexit showdown, British PM May faces challenge over 'meaningful vote'

Prominent pro Remain Conservatives fear a defeat in the Commons could lead Boris Johnson to launch a leadership bid

The issue of a "meaningful vote" is set to be a flashpoint in the Commons, with ministers seeking to overturn a Lords amendment which would give Parliament extensive powers to direct ministers how to proceed if a deal with Brussels is rejected by MPs or no deal is reached.

After winning Tuesday's vote over changes to a future "meaningful vote" on a final agreement with Brussels in her European Union withdrawal bill, May's plans to end more than 40 years of membership in the bloc were still on track. Rebels have said they will challenge May's plans to leave the customs union during votes on other bills, on trade and customs, which will be brought back to the house some time before July 24.

Theresa May saw off a revolt from the pro-European wing of her fractured party, averting what could have been a major political crisis.

"Labour will only vote for a final Brexit deal if it delivers a strong relationship with the single market based on full tariff-free access and ensures no loss of rights and standards", Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Facebook.

Despite depending on the votes of the 10 DUP MPs for her precarious Commons majority, there were signs of cautious optimism among ministers that they would get the numbers to see off the revolt.

After 11 straight votes on the UK Government's EU Withdrawal Bill, they took to Twitter to vent their understandable frustration at the lack of electronic voting. That clause - drafted by Grieve - basically hands a lot of power to Parliament if no deal has been agreed by the end of November.

Tory rebels claimed that the government had agreed to specific proposals from leading backbench remainer Grieve to address concerns over what would happen if parliament rejected the final Brexit deal, or talks with the European Union were to break down.

Prime Minister Theresa May has appealed to Tory rebels not to undermine her negotiating position by backing the amendments.

Leading Conservative rebels welcomed the "important concessions" by the government, but insisted that ministers must follow through on their concession or face a defeat when the bill returns to the House of Commons later this month.

Justice minister Phillip Lee is the first minister to resign over the government's Brexit policy.

Philip Lee MP told colleagues that he had been forced to stand down in order to prevent the government from taking actions that would be "detrimental" to his constituents. During the debate, potential rebels, including former Attorney General Dominic Grieve were invited out of the chamber for discussions with the Chief Whip Julian Smith.

The new concession is likely to prove hugely controversial with Brexit-supporting MPs, some of whom have told BI that they intend to oust May if she "backslides" any more on Brexit. If the government fails to pass the bill as it is, it will be forced to change what it asks for in negotiations with the European Union -undermining May's position and possibly threatening her job as Prime Minister.

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