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- Government defeated in the Lords by 366 to 268 on whether there should be a "meaningful vote" on Theresa May's final Brexit deal.
- Brexit bill amendment seeks to give Parliament the power to veto an "extreme Brexit" on WTO terms.
- The bill will now pass back to the House of Commons.
- Theresa May faces growing rebellion from Conservative MPs concerned about a "no-deal" Brexit.
LONDON — The House of Lords has voted to give parliament a veto on a so-called "extreme Brexit" scenario.
Theresa May has repeatedly insisted that she is prepared to complete Brexit, even if she fails to secure any Brexit trade deal from the EU at the end of the two-year Article 50 negotiation period.
Under this scenario Britain would leave the EU on World Trade Organisation terms, which business organisations have warned would open a "Pandora's box" of negative economic consequences.
The prime minister has so far insisted that she is prepared to do so because "no deal is better than a bad deal". The government also insisted that allowing Parliament a veto would "incentivise" the EU to offer Britain a bad deal.
However, the House of Lords on Tuesday disagreed and voted to give parliament a veto on such an outcome.
Peers voted by 366 votes to 268 to allow Parliament a "meaningful vote" on whether Theresa May can leave the EU without any deal from the EU.
The amendment hangs on the assumption that the government could choose to revoke Article 50 — the two year process that Britain will leave the EU.
The government has repeatedly refused to say whether Article 5o could be revoked. Brexit Minister Lord Bridges said today that the question of its revocability was "irrelevant" because they have no plans to do so.
However, Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50, told peers today that Brexit could be reversed if the government wanted to.
"When the government says as a matter of policy that they will not withdraw the notification... they implicitly confirm that in law they could withdraw it and they could. It is revocable," he said.
House of LordsThe Brexit bill will now pass back to the House of Commons next week where Theresa May faces a possible defeat thanks to a growing rebellion from Remain-supporting Conservative MPs.
If passed by both houses, Theresa May will be forced to seek the approval of Parliament before either agreeing a Brexit deal with the EU or leaving without one.
Pressure has been growing from business organisations to avoid an "extreme Brexit" — Britain leaving the EU without any trade deal with the EU
Last week the CBI warned that leaving the EU on WTO terms would open a "Pandora's box" and seriously damage the economy both in the UK and Europe.
"Wherever I go across Europe, I hear concerns about the UK leaving without a deal and falling into World Trade Organisation rules," Paul Drechsler said in a speech in London.
"We should be under no illusions about what this would really mean. A 'no deal' scenario would open a Pandora’s Box of economic consequences.
"The UK would face tariffs on 90% of its EU exports by value and a raft of new regulatory hurdles. Let's remember these barriers would hurt firms on both sides of the Channel."
"Here in the UK and across the continent firms are worried about this 'worst-case scenario.' Some are getting ready for it to reduce economic damage. Some won’t prepare because they’re hoping for a deal. But in reality many firms can't prepare because the cost of change is simply too high to even consider it."
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