May offers pro-EU rebels Brexit compromise – source
LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed a compromise with pro-EU MPs in her Conservative Party that offers parliament a vote on any future steps in Brexit talks if Britain fails to agree a deal by mid-February, a source said on Thursday.
May was forced to quell a rebellion earlier this week when she faced defeat on a vote in parliament over the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will sever ties with the EU.
Several pro-EU MPs threatened to rebel over whether parliament should have more control over any final deal agreed with the EU in Brussels. They had planned to vote against a government proposal, which they said did not offer them a “meaningful vote”.
But, at almost the final moment on Tuesday, the two sides agreed to find a compromise and have until 1600 GMT to present it to parliament.
The compromise was interpreted by some commentators as a step towards a softer exit from the EU, which a majority in parliament would appear to support, and reducing the possibility of crashing out of the bloc without a deal.
Speaking before the official publication of a new proposal, one source familiar with the negotiations said a deal had been reached, and that the government would give parliament a vote over its future action if ministers failed to agree a deal by mid-February.
A spokeswoman for May said the compromise amendment would be published shortly before 1600 GMT.
The government has always insisted it would give parliament a meaningful vote, but debate has raged for months over what that should actually mean.
Ministers said parliament should have the choice to accept the deal it negotiates with Brussels or leave the EU without a deal; others said that a no deal outcome was unacceptable and parliament should be given a greater range of options.
Pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry, one of the most vocal critics of the governments strategy, tweeted: “Deal or no deal, parliament will have a meaningful vote and to be clear there will be no hard #Brexit when the EU Withdrawal Bill is passed.”
additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Michael Holden