United Kingdom lawmakers vote to strike Brexit date from bill

Theresa May refuses to scold Boris Johnson after he calls EU deal 'crazy'

The government in November inserted 11 p.m. on March 29, 2020 into its own bill to "remove any confusion or concern about what "exit day" means", Brexit Secretary David Davis said at the time.

The Guardian newspaper commented that the 13th defeat for the government has suffered was probably the one that does most to challenge the government's Brexit plans because it is created to keep Britain in the European single market. Then, the Lords dealt Ms May another blow by supporting a change that would prevent the UK's exit without a deal.

The move, spearheaded by the Conservative Duke of Wellington, was backed by 311 votes to 233, a majority of 78.

The defeats suggest there could be a lengthy and time-consuming period of "ping pong" between the two Houses of Parliament as the government seeks to strip unwanted amendments, potentially delaying the rest of its crowded Brexit legislative timetable. "But this date should not be defined and specified.in case it becomes necessary and in the national interest to agree an extension as provided in Article 50".

Brexit minister Lord Callanan made this argument in his response for the Government, warning peers that remaining in the EEA "would not deliver control of our borders or our laws".

The votes can be overturned by the more powerful lower house, the House of Commons, where May's party has a slim majority with the support of a small Northern Irish party, but could embolden lawmakers who hope to derail her plans to forge a new relationship with the EU.

Labour's official stance was to abstain on the EEA amendment, but 83 of its peers rebelled against the frontbench.

Parliament's upper chamber voted by 311 to 233 to strip out the Brexit date, and by 298 to 227 for the change on European Union agencies.

The amendment on European Union agencies is created to "give some element of shape to what now seems formless and void", said Nicholas Baines, The Lord Bishop of Leeds. The government's decision to amend it in the Commons by adding the date had been unnecessary. The legislation as now worded didn't prevent any future government or parliament from mirroring European Union law, or choosing to participate in European Union agencies, he said. Further amendments are still possible at that stage: Labour has said a debate on environmental protections is "one to watch".

The bill is now expected to go back within weeks to the House of Commons, which could reject the amendments approved by the Lords.

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