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British PM Theresa May’s government suffers her first major legislative defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government suffered her first major legislative defeat on Wednesday when MPs forced through changes to her Brexit blueprint that ministers said could endanger Britain’s departure from the European Union.

In a blow to Ms May, already weakened after losing her Conservative Party’s majority in a June election, the 650-seat Parliament voted 309 to 305 in favour of an amendment to hand MPs more say over a final exit deal with the EU.

Eleven rebel Tory MPs combined with nearly all Labour, Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrat members to defeat the government with four votes on its main Brexit legislation in the Commons.

Recriminations burst out in the Tory party after the vote, with blame aimed variously at the rebels, ministers and the whips. The Daily Mail, a rightwing newspaper, labelled the rebels “11 self-consumed malcontents”.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, called for a “ceasefire” between the various sides, and said there was a difference “between disagreeing and personal attacks”.

Ms May sought to brush off the humiliating parliamentary defeat as she arrived at a Brussels summit on Thursday, insisting Brexit was on track as EU leaders prepared to move talks onto the next stage.

The Prime Minister said though she was “disappointed” that members of her Conservative party had rebelled to demand Parliament has the final say on the separation, she stressed, “We’re on course to deliver Brexit.”


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