Theresa May has been accused of reneging on a deal struck with MPs to avoid a game-changing Government defeat over Brexit.
After a last-gasp meeting with the Prime Minister before a crunch vote on Brexit on Tuesday, up to 17 Tory MPs agreed not to back a plan that could have seen Parliament take control of the Brexit negotiations if the Government failed to strike a deal.
May promised the would-be rebels the Government would put forward a new amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that would beef-up the so-called ‘meaningful vote’ plan in exchange for their support.
That compromise amendment – set to be voted on in the Lords on Monday - was published on Thursday afternoon, and prompted an immediate backlash from Tory MPs who believe they have been betrayed.
Under the Government’s plan, MPs will only be able to debate the Prime Minister’s next move if no deal is struck or they vote down the deal, and would have no power to direct what should happen next.
Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General who has led the charge for Parliament to have a greater say in the Brexit negotiations, was reportedly angry at the amendment.
He told The Telegraph: “I thought these issues had been resolved hours ago, but at the last minute an element has been changed in a way that is unacceptable.”
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, who had planned to rebel on Tuesday but was bought off by the Prime Minister, took to Twitter to express her disappointment.
Ah ha, so just to be clear we are now going to have to amend the ‘unamendable’ after the agreed amendable amendment acquired a sneaky sting in the tail. What a time to be alive...— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) June 14, 2018
Anna Soubry, who defied party orders on Tuesday and backed the meaningful vote amendment, also hit out.
I understand the Govt has tabled an amendment that has not been agreed by Dominic Grieve. Grateful for the conversations but without consultation what was agreed earlier today has been changed.— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) June 14, 2018
May faces the prospect that the Lords could reject her amendment on Monday and back the one put forward by Grieve instead.
That would see the matter returned yet again to the Commons, where MPs will have another chance to defeat the Government.