An intense session in British Parliament has shown tonight that, in negotiations of Brexit, European is only one of two complicated fronts in which British prime Minister battled. In Brussels, Theresa May attends European Council on Thursday with success of having reached an agreement on terms of divorce that will allow him to move to second phase of negotiations and start talking about future business relationship. But in Westminster, or front, political weakness of May has again become apparent, with triumph of a more pro-european rebellion of its own members. These have achieved this Wednesday night, joining ir vote with opposition, that an amendment to great Law of Brexit, which obliges to include in same an explicit guarantee that Parliament can vote agreement that reaches 27 before s that this is signed. The amendment has prospered by 309 votes against 305.
Tonight was Theresa May's first major parliamentary defeat in Brexit process. Until now, project of " great law of withdrawal of EU" had overcome its parliamentary procedure intact, without flourishing of any of hundreds of amendments interposed by deputies of one and or signs. This is a colossal piece of legislation, key in government's strategy, whose main mission will be, at time of Brexit, to end supremacy of Community legislation, repealing act of Accession and automatically transferring Acquis communautaire to British legal system, to avoid a normative chaos immediately after departure.
The amendment, proposed by Conservative deputy and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, seeks to change clause 9 of bill so that government cannot implement agreement reached with Brussels until members give green light through a New law. The current drafting of bill would allow Government to implement agreement through secondary legislation and, refore, with much lower parliamentary scrutiny. Without that change in law, rebels defend, Parliament would not really have last word in terms of Brexit, as it corresponds.
The government, under pressure, had already offered a vote to members on agreement reached with Brussels. But rebels want vote to be before agreement is signed, so that re is room for reaction, and that it be written explicitly in law so that re are no last-minute surprises. The most eurosceptics, for ir part, see in maneuver an attempt to derail process of Brexit.
Apart from technical implications, vote in favour of amendment is a defeat for Theresa May. Parliamentary defeats are not taste of any government, but y are especially painful for one like May, which faces enormous legislative activity with a very majority. What makes humiliating even this defeat is fact that government has fought battle literally until last minute, offering concessions to rebels and even threatening with legal reprisals.
The vote, which was held in London at night, after more than six hours of debate, was a sign of delicate arithmetic of British Parliament after losing May absolute majority in early elections last June. The Conservatives have a real majority of 15 seats, thanks to support of Unionists norirlandeses of DUP. Thus, it was enough for eight conservative deputies to rebel and vote in favour of amendment. But anor question was how many of seven Labour pro Brexit would be willing to vote with government.