UK's May Avoids Mutiny: Accepts Watered-Down Brexit Amendment

Update: UK PM Theresa May has won a watered-down vote that leaves her cabinet in control of the Brexit negotiations for now... but in order to avert mutiny, she had to accept a considerable concession.


Sky's Political Editor Faisal Islam explained in a tweet: "Government indicating that it will use 5a and 5b but not 5c of the Grieve Amendment as basis for a discussion on meaningful vote..."

The "Grieve amendment" is a slightly watered-down version of the original "meaningful vote" amendment, that The Sun reports means that the House of Commons will be able to direct Brexit negotiations if there's no deal by the end of November; and lawmakers will have a veto on how it goes from there.

As Citi notes, by agreeing to this, the government has made big concessions towards the Tory rebels lobbying for a softer Brexit (or at least a more measured approach). This puts huge pressure on May’s cabinet to sort itself out and conclude a deal, with the October EU summit now looking like a big crunch date. If Brexit returns to Parliament, it is likely to adopt a softer approach.

For now Cable is holding near the highs of the day...

And the same against EUR...

*  *  *

For months, headlines have crowed of failed parliamentary vote after failed parliamentary vote (most notably by The House of Lords) as (some members of) Theresa May's government attempt to navigate the path towards Brexit (that her nation democratically voted for).

While each had vote had its own impact, today's so-called "meaningful vote" amendment (once again inserted by an obstructionist House of Lords) is critical to the future of Brexit - and also to May's future - as she faces a rebellion among her own lawmakers ahead of a vote that could hand Parliament the power to direct negotiations if lawmakers don't like the divorce deal that May brings back from Brussels.

As Bloomberg reports, May hates this clause because she says it would tie her hands in negotiations.

Brexit backers hate it because they see it as a tool to thwart the divorce. If the amendment is accepted, it would be another reason for Brexiters to want to replace May with one of their own.

For pro-EU rebels, the stake are high. While the customs issue will come again, they might not get another chance to secure themselves a meaningful vote on the final divorce deal that May expects to secure later this year. The government wants lawmakers to be faced with the choice of this deal or no deal – something pro-EU rebels see as no choice at all. They want to be able to send May back to the negotiating table if they don’t like it.

Ahead of the vote, various rebellions have arisen inside her own party, most of which she has dodged, but as lawmakers debate the amendment, it is clear that the vote will be a knife-edge split with just two weeks until the EU summit.

As The Telegraph reports, four more ministers are prepared to quit over Brexit after Phillip Lee's "warning shot" resignation.

A source close to Dr Lee said his resignation is meant to "send a signal to the whips and the Prime Minister".

It is understood four more junior ministers have been talking privately with Dr Lee and each other about quitting, and that his resignation is designed to "show they are serious".

"We can't let the bullies continue to run our party," the source said, highlighting the Government's resistance to giving Parliament a meaningful vote on the final deal. "They have torn the party apart for years, and they still are."

Asked if the other four resignations could come today, the source said: "I would be surprised. Philip is the warning shot."

The ministers are concerned about the EU Withdrawal Bill passing the meaningful vote. "This is an unsafe piece of legislation for our country," the source said.

As a reminder, May bought off pro-European rebels on what would have been a largely symbolic vote on whether the U.K. should remain in a customs union with the European Union after Brexit. With a vaguely worded fudge that the whole party can get behind, that fight has been postponed until another showdown next month.

But today's vote - and the political infighting that appears to be tearing May's party apart - will be a game-changer and May knows it as she urged her lawmakers to think about the message they were sending to the EU and begged them not to tie her hands in negotiations.

Robert Buckland, the Remain-supporting solicitor-general, was more succinct as he stood alongside euroskeptic Brexit Minister Steve Baker:

“There is ongoing work happening. It’s emblematic of a real sense of common purpose in the party that we all hang together or we all hang separately.”

Moreover, some members of parliament have had death threats ahead of the vote.

“To my knowledge at least one honourable member on these benches will today and tomorrow not vote in accordance with their conscience because of threats to their personal safety, to members of their Parliamentary staff and members of their family,”

Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, who campaigned for Brexit, replied that such threats are “utterly unacceptable” and "the Government will absolutely uphold the right of every member to do as they believe is the right thing to do."

The vote is due to occur between 3pm and 4pm London Time (10am - 11am ET) and for now Cable cannot make its mind up...