Government defeated heavily in Lords on 'meaningful' Brexit vote

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Britain's upper house of parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to give lawmakers a vote on her Brexit strategy, instead backing a rival proposal that gives parliament more influence.

The proposal passed on Monday will now be voted upon in the lower House of Commons on Wednesday, with the pro-EU camp still seeking compromise but warning they could collapse the government unless their demands are met.

Agreeing to amendable motions would allow parliament to direct government on its approach to exiting the European Union, binding the prime minister's hands and making it harder to secure a good deal for the UK. The head of Government had assured that the deputies would have a decisive role in the exit process, but the clause elaborated by her team did not reflect the previous thing and provoked the dissatisfaction of the so-called rebel conservatives.

One of May's mantras is that "no deal is better than a bad deal" and Brexit campaigners say Britain would lose one of its negotiating tools if the government can not threaten to walk away from the talks, which have all but stalled.

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"To rule out "no deal" as an option completely, even as a theoretical negotiating objective, places the government in an impossible position", former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont told lawmakers. "And I've been misreported on that, it was suggested I want to collapse the government, I don't".

Andrew Mitchell, the former Conservative Party Chief Whip, speaks to former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, as an anti-Brexit protester stands near them opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, May 10, 2018.

Lord Hailsham said that Mr Grieve thought he had an agreement with the solicitor general last week, but it then appeared "senior ministers" had objected to it and it had now been "repudiated".

Grieve said the new amendment, won in the House of Lords by a margin of 354 votes to 235, was a mechanism by which the House of Commons could express a view, without moving to a motion of no confidence in May's government, which could collapse the government.

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Under these circumstances, the government has said, a minister will make a statement in Parliament, setting out the government's next steps.

According to the parliamentary authorities, the House of Lords is made up of people from all walks of life who "use their experience from inside and outside of Parliament to check and challenge the Government". "But there is a risk it will happen, and if we have no deal at the very end it is a serious crisis".

Lord Hailsham said: "The government's amendment not only fails to deliver the promised meaningful vote".

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