12 Jun 2018

Tory rebels set to abstain on Brexit amendment

Philip Lee could find himself a lonely figure when he votes for the Lords amendment on the meaningful vote.

The Conservative MP resigned from his post as a justice minister earlier today, in order to oppose Brexit. But most of Dominic Grieve’s rebel army intend to abstain on the amendment in the hope that their amendment will be inserted into the Bill next week in the Lords.

Dr Lee, who is expected to give a resignation speech if he can in the debate this afternoon, could find he votes alongside Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry at most. You can’t rule out a last minute mess up by the government which reforms the rebellion this afternoon, but it isn’t the plan and right now doesn’t look likely. Ministers are meant to be on alert to help backbenchers stand down their forces not provoke them to regroup.

The Chief Whip complained last night that Dominic Grieve’s amendment came at 10pm, too late for the government to adopt it. It was “bad faith” it was claimed, according to one close to the discussions.

As for Dr Lee, I understand his offices are already being downgraded to the worst office available in a distant corner of Parliament.

I understand that there’s an expectation that the Cabinet two day gathering working out Brexit policy could happen around the seventh or eighth of July, and could include the entire Cabinet – not just the Brexit Committee.

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