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Michel Barnier and Davis Davis talk Brexit 'backstop'

14 Juin 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May defeated the final challenges to her Brexit blueprint in parliament on Wednesday, leaving plans for Britain's departure from the European Union still largely on track but her authority weakened.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell hit out at the nationalists for "constitutional posturing", saying it was "quite clear that it was never going to be possible to get agreed amendments because quite simply the Scottish Government, the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon have a different view of the constitution from everybody else".

In a "risks" section, the prospectus for the new fund said that before and after Brexit "there is likely to be considerable uncertainty as to the position of the United Kingdom and the arrangements which will apply to its relationships with the EU".

Potential Tory rebels held back from a threatened revolt on Tuesday after a face-to-face meeting in which the Prime Minister was said to have offer "personal assurances" on concessions.

On the second day of debate on changes to May's European Union withdrawal bill, lawmakers will vote on amendments from the upper house of parliament over Britain's relationship to the bloc's customs union and single market.

She is expected to come through the latest round of votes unscathed, with a potentially explosive clash over the customs union on Wednesday already defused by a compromise amendment.

That means that the prospect of a "no deal" Brexit is becoming increasingly unlikely.

However, May's pro-European lawmakers warned that they could yet rebel if she backtracks on promises to give parliament a greater say in the final withdrawal deal. Having passed through its commons stages relatively unscathed it saw a series of 15 government defeats in the House of Lords, including an unexpected one on the single market.

In the end Lee abstained, saying he trusted the premier to give parliament a "voice" in a compromise motion that was due to be presented when the bill returns to the unelected House of Lords on Monday (18 June).

Conservative former minister Anna Soubry said the abuse of MPs who speak out against the government's Brexit policy "simply has to stop".

Labour said May had been forced to avoid a "humiliating defeat" and "to enter negotiations with her backbenchers". Yet now, with just hours to go before the parliamentary showdown, the Prime Minister looks as though she has brought her administration back from the brink.

'The Brexit secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet - not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of parliament and government in negotiating global treaties, and respecting the referendum result.

In the months that followed, May struggled to assert her authority over her party and government, with a string of ministers resigning from the Cabinet and disunity over Brexit among those who remained around her top table.

The Commission has expressed its concerns, including its position that London's proposal is overly complex and hard to implement, through the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Michel Barnier and Davis Davis talk Brexit 'backstop'