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British PM fends off Brexit parliamentary defeat

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A casket team carries the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Robert E. Meyers a Korean War soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 2015. Meyers' remains were identified decades after his unit was involved in combat operations near Sonchu North Korea

The government was putting a combative spin on the concessions Tuesday evening: "The Brexit Secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet - not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of Parliament and Government in negotiating global treaties, and respecting the referendum result", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement.

After the resignation of justice minister Phillip Lee, who said he could not support the government's position on Brexit, it was said government whips feared a Tory rebellion on the "meaningful vote" amendment passed by the House of Lords.

Two days of debate on the laws that will end Britain's European Union membership have crystallised long-running divisions within May's party about the best strategy for leaving the European Union, bringing to a head issues that will determine the relationship between the world's fifth-largest economy and its biggest trading bloc.

His competing amendment could force ministers to hand over control of its Brexit strategy to parliament if there is no deal by mid-February.

She was so supportive towards the former attorney general, as he argued for Parliament to have a "meaningful vote" on the terms of the Brexit deal, that it seemed probable she would join the Euro-rebels in voting for it....

Some Europhile Tories may hold back from rebelling to avoid destabilising her and risking handing the leadership to a hardline Brexiteer.

But her concession to parliament means that lawmakers now have more power if she fails to secure a Brexit deal, which may lead to a softer approach to Britain's divorce.

Ms. May has said a government defeat would weaken its hand in exit talks with the European Union.

In a painful blow the the PM, Remain-supporting MP Philip Lee quit as justice minister this morning, saying he could not support "how our country's exit from the European Union looks set to be delivered".

"MPs must remember that people did not vote to leave with caveats in mind".

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Brexit Secretary David Davis and Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

Leading Conservative rebels welcomed the "important concessions" by the government, but insisted that ministers must follow through on their concession or face a defeat when the bill returns to the House of Commons later this month.

"The question of what form parliamentary approval of the withdrawal bill takes is one of the most significant decisions this house will have to take", he said.

But government officials admitted that the concession does constrain their freedom in the Brexit talks.

In the tense atmosphere where it was not clear which way the vote would go, the government secured its victory only after offering concessions to one of the leaders of a group of Conservative lawmakers who were threatening to vote against May.

One Tory Leaver said: "We need to know more about what exactly the prime minister has told the rebels".

Lee said that within government he "found it virtually impossible to help bring sufficient change to the course on which we are bound".

Keir Starmer, Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, was refusing to accept the government at its word Tuesday.

Labour said May had been forced to avoid a "humiliating defeat" and "to enter negotiations with her backbenchers". "We will have to go away, think about it and come back and make a statement".

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