Weakened, May defeats final Brexit challenges in parliament

Britain's Secretary of State for Education Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan

In a vote on a Lords amendment that would effectively mean staying in the European Economic Area, 75 backbenchers defied party instructions to abstain and voted for the EEA.

After days of division and bitter rows between Brexiteers and Remainers in the Tory ranks, Theresa May was able to see off another amendment that would have tied Britain to the customs union post-Brexit by 325 votes to 298, majority 27. He said he would vote against the prime minister. They included 75 who supported EEA membership and 15 who opposed it.

Earlier, May appeared to have also stemmed a rebellion over her commitment to leaving the EU's customs union which will transform Britain's trading relationships for decades to come.

Caroline Flint, a remainer whose Don Valley constituency voted more than two to one to leave, defended her constituents who she said had been insulted "day in and day out by some of the comments in this place and outside are not against all migration".

"Anything that undermines the government at home will make negotiations with the European Union more hard", May told a meeting of her cabinet.

The Lords amendment would force the government to prioritise an EEA deal - the so-called Norway Model - in negotiations with the EU.

But in unusual scenes, ministers were forced to offer a last-minute compromise to pro-European MPs, negotiated in part in huddles in the chamber as the debate raged.

But the former Europe minister Pat McFadden said it would be "unwise and rash" to take the EEA, the one viable alternative to a Tory deal on Brexit, or no deal at all, off the table. The government earlier had said it would not support that amendment.

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Theresa May has suffered a ministerial resignation ahead of crunch Commons votes on Brexit, with Phillip Lee hitting out at the Government's "irresponsible" approach.

Conservative Brexit campaigners accused those in the party who indicated they would vote against the government of not respecting the referendum result.

The government was putting a combative spin on the concessions Tuesday evening: "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", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement. It meant that the United Kingdom government successfully defeated the Lords amendment, 324 to 298, to the dismay of Labour and other opposition parties.

But his amendment rejecting the EEA and proposing "full access to the internal market of the EU" was a messy fudge that was too much for many Labour MPs to swallow.

But one minister told the BBC he would commit only to "further discussions".

Before the vote, she assured lawmakers she would honor her promise and deal with the "concerns raised about the role of parliament in relation to the Brexit process".

May urged Conservative lawmakers to back the government and show "that we are united as a party in our determination to deliver on the decision made by the British people".

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