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May’s Brexit Plan Imperiled by Tory Rebellion, Lawmaker Says

  • Pro-leave lawmaker Baker says as many as 27 Tories in revolt
  • ‘Wrecking amendments’ seen weakening May hand, Baker says

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a revolt from as many as 27 lawmakers in her ruling Conservative Party who want to “wreck” her Brexit law, a prominent anti-Europe campaigner said.

Members of May’s party could derail her plan to trigger the start of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union by supporting amendments to the draft law in Parliament next week, said Steve Baker, chairman of a group of pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers.

“I understand 27 Conservative members of Parliament plan to support wrecking amendments to the withdrawal bill, weakening the prime minister’s hand and exposing the bill to damage in the House of Lords,” Baker said by telephone on Saturday, without revealing how he calculated the figure.

“This is a time to unite behind a democratic result, not plot to repudiate it,” said Baker, who represents a constituency north of London. “Any vote to amend this simple bill is a vote against implementation of the referendum result.”

With a majority of just 16, a revolt by 27 of her own lawmakers would be enough to defeat May’s plans in a vote in the House of Commons, Britain’s lower House of Parliament. This would then embolden members of the upper house, the Lords, who will then consider making their own changes to the bill.

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In January, Supreme Court judges in London ordered May to produce a law that would give her the power to notify the EU that the U.K. intends to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU treaty.

So far, only one member of Parliament on May’s side is publicly planning to try to block Brexit -- the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke. May won an initial vote by 498-114 on Feb. 1 on her short bill to trigger Article 50. The bill will spend three days in committee beginning Monday, with a final Commons vote on Feb. 8.

Conservative lawmakers who expressed concerns during the debate on the Brexit law include former ministers Nicky Morgan, Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry.

Attempts to stop members of Parliament “including me, doing parliamentary scrutiny job which is key part of our democracy are chilling, wrong & will fail,” Morgan said Saturday on Twitter.

Some Conservatives are concerned that May isn’t planning to give Parliament a binding vote on the final Brexit deal that she’s hoping to achieve in negotiations with the EU before it’s too late to be changed.

They are also said to be weighing whether to back an amendment to the bill that would make a unilateral promise to EU citizens living in the U.K. that they will not be thrown out of the country after it leaves the bloc.

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