MPs have dealt a humiliating blow to the Government by ‘taking back control’ of the Brexit process with a House of Commons defeat for Theresa May.
In a damaging hit to her already diminished authority, Tory rebels rallied around ringleader Dominic Grieve to back his attempt to ensure MPs have a ‘meaningful vote’ on the withdrawal deal.
A dramatic last-minute concession by justice minister Dominic Raab was dismissed as ‘too late’ by Grieve, whose amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill squeezed through the Commons on a majority of four amid tense scenes in the chamber.
Tory Remainer Nicky Morgan tweeted ‘Tonight Parliament took control of the EU Withdrawal process’, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the defeat as ‘a humiliating loss of authority’ for May.
Amid intense scenes in the Commons as the division was called, would-be rebel Vicky Ford appeared to be wavering between division lobbies before being ushered towards the Government side by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexiteer MP James Cleverly.
She had asked Raab to outline his concession, who told her he was making it ‘crystal clear’ that there would be a ‘meaningful vote’ before the withdrawal deal was put into UK law.
As May prepared to travel to a Brussels summit where European Union leaders are expected to rubber-stamp Brexit negotiations moving on to trade, Corbyn said: ‘This defeat is a humiliating loss of authority for the Government on the eve of the European Council meeting.
‘Labour has made the case since the referendum for a meaningful vote in Parliament on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
‘Theresa May has resisted democratic accountability. Her refusal to listen means she will now have to accept Parliament taking back control.’
A Government spokeswoman said: ‘We are disappointed that Parliament has voted for this amendment despite the strong assurances that we have set out.
‘We are as clear as ever that this Bill, and the powers within it, are essential.
‘This amendment does not prevent us from preparing our statute book for exit day. We will now determine whether further changes are needed to the Bill to ensure it fulfils its vital purpose.’