A last-minute deal with Tory Remainers to strengthen Parliament’s role in the event of a “no deal” Brexit with the European Union saved the Government from potential defeat in the Commons.
Chief Whip Julian Smith could be seen darting in and out of the chamber and between Tory backbenchers as MPs debated a House of Lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which would allow the Commons to decide the next course of action if MPs rejected the final deal.
As the debate progressed Mr Smith could be seen locked in conversation with former Attorney General Dominic Grieve who had also proposed an amendment seeking a greater role for Parliament.
Former minister George Freeman was also collared by the Chief Whip in the chamber after he tweeted that he was “torn” on the issue.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland rose several times in a bid to reassure Tory Remainers that the Government was “willing to engage positively ahead of the Lords stages”.
In the final moments before the close of the debate, Mr Grieve could be seen in frantic conservation with Mr Buckland and Mr Smith — with Mr Buckland again rising to pledge the Government would use Mr Grieve’s comments as a basis for formal discussion.
The move proved enough for Tory Remainer Antoinette Sandbach who rose to say that she would no longer be voting for the Lords amendment – drawing groans from several Labour MPs.
The Commons decisively rejected the Lords amendment 324 votes to 298, with cheers from the Tory benches as the result was delivered.