A minister’s resignation suggests Brexit amendment votes might be enough to topple the Tories

Theresa May with EU and Union jack projected onto her face
Fréa Lockley

On 12 June, fifteen key Brexit amendments set by the House of Lords come up for debate in the Commons.

On the day of the vote, justice minister Dr Phillip Lee announced his resignation on the grounds he could not vote with the government against these EU (Withdrawal) Bill amendments. And there’s also speculation he may not be the only one.

“Last resort”

Ahead of his formal resignation letter, he issued a series of tweets outlining his position:

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And his position was critical of Theresa May and her government’s approach to Brexit:

One of his key points is support for an amendment that will give parliament a final say in the Brexit vote:

He said resigning was a “last resort”:

According to some, his resignation pinpoints the dangers of the Brexit deal May’s government will try to push through:

And that’s not all

Following Lee’s resignation, rumours emerged suggesting he may not be the only one:

The editor of the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog joined in:

And so did Labour peer Andrew Adonis:

And apparently the news has ruffled supporters of a hard Brexit, favoured by Boris Johnson and others:

Lee’s resignation could cause issues if the government tries to impose a three-line whip:

As a justice minister, Lee also held responsibility for post-Brexit human rights:

Following the Windrush scandal, the government’s policy on human rights is a major concern. So many, including Green MP Caroline Lucas, think it’s vital that we remain committed to supporting human rights in the UK after Brexit:

However, Lee’s voting record should remind us all that he’s not exactly a hero either.

What’s it all about?

According to Sky News, the “government disagrees” with nine of the proposed amendments. But the amendments that the government disagrees with will have far-reaching implications for us all. Because the Lords amendments have been proposed to curtail a potential ‘power grab’ by May’s government during and after any Brexit negotiations.

But the amendments go further, and also include:

  • “Enhanced protection for certain areas of EU legislation. This amendment stops the Government changing any EU law relating to the environment, consumers and employment without putting it before MPs first.”
  • Keeping the ‘Charter of Fundamental Rights’. This is important because it “covers a range of rights – such as a right to life, freedom of religion, and fair working conditions – and is the yardstick against which all EU law is drawn up against.”
  • Supporting a “Meaningful role for Parliament at end of negotiations”. Which is one of “the biggest changes to the Bill, and would have a dramatic impact on Brexit. This amendment strengthens the role Parliament plays in the negotiations.”
  • Ensuring that the Good Friday agreement is supported following Brexit. Because this ensures that any “new border arrangements could only be implemented if agreed with the Irish Government”.
  • As previously reported in The Canary, ensuring that unaccompanied child refugees can still join relatives in the UK.

The right-wing press has gone to town over these votes. But that really just shows how important they are:

Get the popcorn…

Lee’s resignation is significant, and many are watching to see if other Tories might follow and vote against May’s government. But it’s possible that we might, finally, see democracy in action amid the Brexit chaos.

And, perhaps, this could be enough to topple May’s weak hold on power.

Time to get the popcorn…

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Featured image via muffin/Flickr

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