MPs voted by 324 votes to 298 to rejecting an amendment passed by the House of Lords in April that would strengthen the hand of the Commons in the event of it rejecting the final Brexit deal.
May's officials begin work on Wednesday, drafting a new clause in her key piece of Brexit legislation after she narrowly avoided a defeat in Parliament by offering last-minute concessions to pro-EU lawmakers.
Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, and the bloc is frustrated with what it sees as a lack of firm proposals from the U.K about future relations.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "As has become a tradition in Brexit negotiations, the Tories have been forced to cobble together a compromise". The government says leaving the customs union will free the country to strike trade deals around the world. If the government fails to pass the bill as it is, it will be forced to change what it asks for in negotiations with the European Union -undermining May's position and possibly threatening her job as Prime Minister.
Lee, who was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, has quit the front bench so he can vote against the government on the "meaningful vote" amendment.
May is seeking to overturn 14 of 15 Lords amendments, but has a fight on her hands due to her fragile majority in the 650-seat Commons. "That's what we were voting for last night".
Failure to appease the rebels would likely see May defeated in parliament in the coming weeks, blowing apart Tuesday's hard-won truce and badly undermining her leadership of a minority government and a divided political party.
A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: "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".
Anna Soubry, a pro-EU Conservative lawmaker, said she knew of one legislator who would not vote with their conscience because of "threats to their personal safety" and that of staff and family.
Dismissing the Government's compromise, she tweeted: "Merely issuing a statement in response would make it a meaningless final vote". It's completely normal for MPs to withdraw their amendments to bills on the basis of a promise "to reconsider" or to "look again" at an issue. He added: "I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment". This affords Conservative pro-'Remain' MPs another opportunity to defeat the government if their discussions with ministers do not yield the tangible concessions they seek. The government wants the Commons to reject 14 out of 15 amendments introduced by the Lords which are meant to keep Britain close to the European Union after Brexit.
So the rebels might sit tight until July, when they will have another opportunity to force May to change direction and keep closer ties to the bloc.
Meanwhile, the founder of the Leave.EU Brexit campaign and his chief spin doctor will face further questions from MPs after a fiery clash with a committee investigating "fake news".
The government has agreed to consider ways to implement the first two parts of pro-European lawmaker Dominic Grieve's plan.
- US Open condoles death of Maria Bueno
- Pokemon: Let's Go Will Require Use of Motion Controls
- IT’S OFFICIAL: Two Norwegian Legislators NOMINATE TRUMP for Nobel Prize
- Fed hikes interest rates again, raises outlook for more increases in 2018
- Study finds early interstellar dust that originated the planets
- Arsenal and Chelsea to play friendly in Dublin
- Martial wants to quit Man United according to his agent
- 'Fixer Upper' stars settle with EPA on lead paint violations
- British and Australian tourists die in Portugal 'fall'
- American Red Cross launches 'Missing Types' campaign