May escapes Brexit bill defeat as MPs vote by 324 votes to 298 to back government

Theresa May  narrowly SCHEMED off a humiliating defeat over the Brexit bill after Conservative rebels accepted significant concessions from the government on the “meaningful vote” when it returns to the House of Lords next week.

Just moments before voting began, the prime minister held 11th-hour talks with more than 14 Tory rebels in her Commons office, after which they received personal assurances that she would agree to the broad thrust of their proposals.

One MP in the meeting, which included former cabinet minister Justine Greening and Ed Vaizey said that May told the group it was “a matter of trust”.

The Tory rebels, led by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve, later praised the government for “responding positively” to their concerns and claimed that they would be addressed when the EU withdrawal bill goes back to the Lords on Monday.

Tory rebels, who were numerous enough to have otherwise inflicted a damaging defeat, claimed that they had agreed to vote with the government after May agreed to address ongoing concerns.

The proposals would mean that in the event of parliament rejecting the final Brexit deal, ministers would have seven days to set out a fresh approach. In the case of talks with the EU breaking down, they would have until 30 November to try to strike a new deal.

However, there did not yet appear to be agreement on the final part – clause C – of Grieve’s proposals, that if there was still no deal by 15 February next year, the government would have had to hand over the reins to the House of Commons to set its Brexit strategy.

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