World

PM May loses in Lords on Brexit vote setting up Commons battle

PM May loses in Lords on Brexit vote setting up Commons battle

Prime Minister Theresa May can not accept a proposal to hand parliament more control over Brexit, her spokesman said on Tuesday, setting up a showdown with lawmakers who want the right to step in if Britain risks crashing out of the European Union with no deal.

Instead back-bench MP and pro-EU politician Dominic Grieve insisted that a meaningful vote in parliament on a Brexit deal may help avoid a crisis moment.

"We need to recognize the role of parliament but ensure that the government's hands can't be tied in negotiations and that parliament does not overturn the will of the people", May told the BBC on Sunday.

With party officials still trying to persuade lawmakers, May's spokesman expressed "hope that all MPs (members of parliament) will be able to support the government's position" rather than a competing one which its backer, Conservative Dominic Grieve, says offers a "meaningful vote".

However, he dismissed suggestions that the rebels would bring down the Government if it was defeated.

A spending pledge for Britain's public health service by May has also irritated some pro-EU lawmakers, who question the government's assertion that the new funding is part of a "Brexit dividend" - money saved by leaving the bloc.

Mr Grieve told the Press Association that his comments about collapsing the Government referred to a future vote on rejecting a Brexit deal, not to this week's clash with the PM.

Lord Hailsham said that Mr Grieve thought he had an agreement with the solicitor general last week, but it then appeared "senior ministers" had objected to it and it had now been "repudiated".

"I shall lobby the prime minister and the leader of the House Andrea Leadsom for the government to give us time to get it through", he said.

"It has been suggested I want to collapse the government, I do not".

The new amendment, to be debated Wednesday, means ministers must update parliament by January 21 if there is no prospect of a deal with the European Union, and then have two weeks to return to the Commons with a statement on how the government plans to proceed.

"We are absolutely confident that we will deliver a Brexit deal that. would be good for the United Kingdom, good for our European friends and partners". The outcome of that row, playing out in the intricate process of passing different proposals between parliament's two chambers over the coming days, will define May's ability to face down rebels who want a softer version of Brexit.

He accused the House of Lords of being "cavalier" and acting against its own long-term interests, adding: "An unamendable motion is parliamentary accountability".