U.K. Minister Phillip Lee Resigns Ahead of Brexit Bill Showdown

Commenting on the government's actions to avoid a defeat over the "meaningful vote" demands, Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "This vote was about ensuring Parliament was given a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no deal situation, which is becoming more likely with the divisions at the heart of this government".

"A vote between bad and worse is not a meaningful vote".

The Prime Minister is now expected to get through the latest round of crunch Brexit votes unscathed, with a potentially explosive clash over the customs union on Wednesday already defused by a compromise amendment.

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. "And I can not bring myself to vote for it in the bastion of liberty, freedom and human rights that is our Parliament".

"If Brexit is worth doing, then it is certainly worth doing well; regardless of how long that takes", he said.

"Secondly, we can not change the fundamental constitutional structure which makes the Government responsible for worldwide relations and global treaties".

He said: "I'm conscious that if we're to make progress we ought to try and do this by consensus, but he must also understand the difficulty the House is in when it is faced with this kind of choice".

The Government has won the first votes during today's Brexit showdown.

But pro-EU Tory MP Heidi Allen warned that other members of the Government may follow Dr Lee out of the door.

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She told BBC Radio 4's World At One that "at least half a dozen" junior ministers had been "very uncomfortable for some time" at the Government's direction on Brexit.

Theresa May has averted an embarrassing defeat over the government's EU Withdrawal Bill by giving MPs a say on the next steps for Brexit if she fails to secure a withdrawal agreement by the end of November.

As the Brexit debate reached its fraught climax, she was holed up in the same House of Commons office, behind the Speaker's chair, where she spent more than an hour last Thursday trying to convince David Davis not to resign.

Grieve told MPs: "If we don't achieve a deal at all, the fact is we are going to be facing an enormous crisis".

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".

"Grieve's amendment puts that right and in a way Govt could and should accept it".

While promising "further discussions", he said he was concerned that empowering Parliament to "instruct" ministers what to do in the event of no deal would leave the United Kingdom in "very rocky constitutional territory".

It would also give hard Brexiteers the chance to "scupper a good deal", she claimed. Just hours earlier, Downing Street had signalled the prime minister had no intention of accepting Grieve's compromise amendment to the European Union withdrawal bill, tabled by the former attorney general and aimed at ensuring ministers can't "crash out of the European Union by ministerial fiat", as he called it.

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