Brexit law faces crucial Commons vote

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Lawmakers will vote on Wednesday on whether to dismiss a plan proposed by the upper chamber of parliament which would require ministers to report what efforts they had made to secure a customs union with the EU by the end of October.

Rebels had been pushing for an amendment that would have given Parliament unprecedented powers over the final stages of Brexit talks.

The premier now has until Friday to draft a legally watertight amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which will be acceptable to both sides. However, as things stand now, they will not be able to send the government back into negotiations if they reject an agreement with the EU. The U.K. will leave the European Union in March next year, but talks in Brussels are struggling to make headway.

In an earlier vote, MPs voted by 328 votes to 297 to disagree with another Lords amendment which was linked to changes to the day Britain leaves the EU.

In a battle of wills between the prime minister and the House of Commons on Tuesday, it was Theresa May who emerged weakened having been pushed into a series of significant concessions to anti-Brexit Conservative MPs in order to fend off a damaging parliamentary defeat.

A section of Labour MPs are expected to defy the official party position and vote in favor of a Lords amendment to keep the United Kingdom in a Norway-style trading arrangement, better known as the European Economic Area (EEA), post-Brexit. "Six to one MPs voted for that and there is a hardcore within the Conservative party that just don't want to accept the fact that we want to leave the European Union".

"A meaningful vote is not the ability to reverse the decision of the referendum", Brexit Secretary David Davis told BBC radio.

"And the thought of no deal absolutely terrifies us".

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If May is defeated by a wide margin her position as Prime Minister could be threatened.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland promised to work on the proposal taking into account concerns raised by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, a leading pro-European rebel.

Issues most likely to provoke rebellions include the "meaningful vote" and the question of whether the date of Brexit should be written into law - both due this afternoon - as well as whether the United Kingdom should stay in the customs union or EEA, which should come early on Wednesday evening.

"We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the government's hands in the negotiations".

A third development, which would allow MPs to direct the government on future talks if there is no resolution on the withdrawal agreement by 15 February, is also on the cards.

But the resignation by Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of the government's Brexit strategy, underlined the deep rifts in the party over Brexit that makes such votes anything but easy.

During a five-hour debate, MPs reinstated the precise day the United Kingdom will leave the European Union - 29 March 2019 - in the proposed legislation while backing an amendment on the Irish border, guaranteeing there will be no new border arrangements without the agreement of the United Kingdom and Irish authorities. If the compromise fails, the rebels are likely to revert back to their original motion, which would potentially strip May of control over running the Brexit negotiations and hand it to Parliament, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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