Sunday, 20 October, 2019

After reprieve, May faces Brexit battle in parliament on trade

Guto Bebb a Remainer voted against the Government over Brexit effectively quitting his frontbench role Guto Bebb a Remainer voted against the Government over Brexit effectively quitting his frontbench role
Patty Aguilar | 17 July, 2018, 17:55

The government avoided what would have been an embarrassing defeat, but the razor-thin margin reveals the fragility of May's support as she tries to find a way to move the complex Brexit process forward.

May's vulnerability in parliament, where she lost her Conservative Party's majority in an ill-judged election past year, was laid bare on Monday, when her decision to accept demands of pro-Brexit lawmakers stirred a rebellion among those who want to keep the closest possible ties in the EU.

After it was confirmed that the Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom had tabled a motion to end the session five days early, many senior backbenchers were aghast.

Some MPs are planning to vote for amendments that would tie Britain to a permanent customs union with the EU.

On Monday night Brexiteers narrowly defeated Tory rebels by just three votes on two amendments.

This morning former cabinet member Justine Greening took the divisive step to call for a 2nd referendum vote on European Union membership, she said: "Brexit has to be above party politics, what's right for the country needs to come first".

But the climbdown, a hasty decision mid-afternoon - which smacked of panic - to accept four amendments to the Bill from Mr Rees-Mogg's European Research Group, nearly backfired spectacularly.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government accepted the amendments because it sees them as consistent with the prime minister's plan as set out in a formal white paper last week.

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Sir Bernard said: "These amendments were only ever about clarifying Government policy, that the United Kingdom will not join a customs union with the EU, nor agree to split Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom for customs purposes, that we are leaving the EU VAT regime, and any customs arrangement with the EU is not one-sided".

Former worldwide development secretary Priti Patel, who is proposing one of four amendments to the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour the white paper had "many flaws around our independence and our ability to make free trade agreements".

Meanwhile Boris Johnson, in his first public intervention since his resignation last week, appealed for people to take a more positive view of Britain's prospects outside the EU.

"She can not be held hostage by them every time there is a hard vote in the House of Commons - and it now looks as though the Chequers plan is completely falling apart", Ms Blackman said.

"I wanted the prime minister's Chequers agreement to be a workable compromise", she wrote in The Times. I think it was a genuine clever attempt at a compromise that could work.

Treasury Parliamentary Private Secretary Scott Mann handed his resignation earlier today in protest over the so-called Brexit "Chequers Deal".

May claims that the trade bill will enable Britain to maintain the 40-odd trade agreements that the European Union has with countries around the world. "There is absolutely no way that I'm voting for it".

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