British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was defeated in the House of Commons on Wednesday after MPs voted 309 to 305 for changes to Brexit bill, limiting the powers it will grant to ministers and giving MPs more say over the final exit deal with the EU.
The government had argued that any changes to Brexit bill would spoil its chances of ensuring a smooth departure from the EU.
The defeat in vote is a major blow to May hours before she is set to travel to Brussels to hold talks with EU leaders.
The amendment proposed by conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve sought to ensure that MPs have a meaningful vote on the final exit deal before it is made a law. Grieve won the support of 11 Tory rebels for the amendment.
Conservative Remainer Nicky Morgan tweeted: “Tonight Parliament took control of the EU Withdrawal process”.
Last-minute concessions by Brexit secretary, David Davis, and Justice Minister Dominic Raab failed to satisfy the rebels.
Davis tabled a written statement promising MPs a vote on the final Brexit deal before Britain leaves in March 2019. The statement said the vote will cover the withdrawal deal and terms for future ties between EU and Britain.
Minutes before the vote, Grieve dismissed as “too late” Raab’s assurance of a meaningful vote on the final deal.
The government said it was ‘disappointed’ over Wednesday’s vote but added that would not stop it from preparing Britain’s laws for EU exit. It even hinted at overturning the result at a later vote.
Reacting to the defeat in the Commons vote, Raab said it was a minor setback for the government.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described it as a humiliating loss of authority for the government on the eve of the European Council meeting.
After the vote, one of the 11 Tory rebels, ex-minister Stephen Hammond, was fired as vice-chairman of the Conservative Party.