U.K. government wins Brexit skirmish by making concessions

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LONDON - Theresa May has narrowly avoided a humiliating parliamentary defeat on Brexit after making a major concession to Conservative rebels which could hand MPs an effective veto on her Brexit deal.

Earlier, the prime minister had been hit by the resignation of justice minister Phillip Lee, who came out in support of a second referendum on the UK's final divorce deal and criticised Mrs May's Brexit policy.

"The main reason for my taking this decision now is the Brexit process and the government's wish to limit parliament's role in contributing to the final outcome in a vote that takes place today", Lee, who voted to remain in the European Union during Britain's 2016 referendum, said on his website.

MPs will on Wednesday debate a series of other amendments to the bill, which if passed, would seek to force May to change course and negotiate to stay inside a customs union and the single market after Brexit.

But pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve said that with the government's move "I am quite satisfied that we are going to get a meaningful vote on both "deal" and "no deal" scenarios.

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Despite many Conservative MPs who backed Remain in the referendum, just two rebelled against the government on a meaningful vote.

When the government realised it could be defeated solicitor general Robert Buckland confirmed to a packed chamber there was "much merit" in Grieve's amendment adding "the government is willing to engage positively".

The parts of his amendment which he expects to be taken forward by ministers provide a mechanism by which Parliament has to be consulted by the end of November in the event of no deal or if a proposed agreement is rejected, he said.

The concession means MPs could be given power to prevent Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

'They want us to deliver on Brexit and build a brighter future for Britain as we take back control of our money, our laws and our borders'.

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The debate, which lasted for almost three hours, was split down the usual non-partisan lines that have emerged as a result of Brexit, with the likes of Labour's Kate Hoey and John Mann saying they would back the Conservative government, while Tories including Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry spoke in favour of Grieve.

Britain's highest-selling tabloid, The Sun, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, addressed lawmakers directly on its front page, saying they faced a choice between "Great Britain or Great Betrayal".

"First, we must never do anything that undermines the Government's negotiating position or encourages delays in the negotiations", Mr Davis said. The Daily Express thundered: "Ignore the will of the people at your peril".

"I absolutely trust what the Prime Minister says to us", he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

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