UK government has changed position on Brexit law compromise - lawmaker

'The EU says no, it goes back to the Commons, a week passes, another resolution has passed, it means nothing has happened'. Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other border infrastructure to impede the free flow of people and goods, but the United Kingdom has not said how that can be achieved if it is outside the customs union.

In a series of votes, the House of Commons largely reversed changes inserted by the House of Lords that would have softened the terms of Brexit.

The debate began on Tuesday, and will resume at around 1200 GMT Wednesday.

The House of Commons voted 324 to 298 to defeat an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which would have removed her government's power to decide to leave the bloc without any agreement. There are two reasons for that: the determination to keep pressure on the decide what it wants; and the long list of other problems that European Union leaders know they might have to deal with next year, including the ongoing fight with President Donald Trump over trade and the rise in populism in the region.

MPs have rejected a "Norway-style" relationship with the European Union as the government defeated a series of House of Lords changes to key Brexit legislation.

The most contentious was the bid to give Parliament the power to tell the government what to do if the Brexit deal was voted down or no agreement was reached.

"There are a number of different scenarios that could arise if we're in a "no deal" situation", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in an interview with broadcaster TV3 on Monday.

The issue was at the heart of a knife-edge vote on Tuesday, which saw more than a dozen MPs, including Nicky Morgan and Ed Vaizey, called into the prime minister's office to be given last-minute reassurances their concerns would be addressed.

The British government is bracing for more bruising debate on its key Brexit bill after being forced to give ground to pro-EU lawmakers to avoid defeat.(AP P

But both Tory and Labour MPs now say the little debated measure, making illegal any "physical infrastructure, including border posts, or checks and controls", is the most significant thing to have occurred in this week's fraught Commons Brexit debates. It was indicated to us that the first two parts of the Grieve amendment presented very few problems and could be incorporated into a government amendment.

In a statement, Corbyn defended his decision to oppose the EEA vote, despite telling his MPs to abstain in parliament.

Grieve proposed the government be forced to seek parliamentary approval for its strategy if it has not agreed a Brexit deal by the end of November. Membership in the EEA would force the United Kingdom to accept the rules of the single market, which include accepting European Union workers.

Above all, the Government has made a complete mess of Brexit as it lurches from crisis to crisis and can not even agree its basic negotiating position on the big issues.

A third part of Grieve's amendment, which the government has not agreed to discuss and is likely to resist, would hand control of the Brexit negotiations to parliament if an exit deal has not been agreed by February 15 next year.

But a government proposal to instead report its efforts to secure a customs "arrangement" seems to have been enough to postpone a more searching debate about government policy, with future debates the more likely stage for a revolt.

The fallout from Britain's referendum vote in 2016 to leave the European Union has reshaped politics, deepening divisions within its main parties and raising tensions between its four nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Such an outcome, though far from certain, would cast the Brexit process into disarray.

That is when Theresa May reportedly gave 15-20 Conservative "rebels" assurances that the government would accept the general meaning of Dominic Grieve's alternative amendment.

  • Leroy Wright