Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

Britain's May bows to Brexit pressure in parliament

Minister Theresa May meets scientists at Jodrell Bank in Macclesfield Britain Minister Theresa May meets scientists at Jodrell Bank in Macclesfield Britain
Patty Aguilar | 17 July, 2018, 14:26

He added: "I can not tell the people of WOxon [West Oxfordshire] that I support the proposals in their current form".

If so, Theresa May has "swallowed something designed [by the ERG] to be indigestible" - and has thus shown herself to have become their hostage.

Hours before MPs debated the Customs Bill, the government said it was accepting all four amendments by the ERG, crucially including a demand that Britain would only collect European tariffs after Brexit if there was a reciprocal agreement with Brussels. And it's only Monday.

Even with a free vote on the final deal in parliament, it still means that in every constituency - mine was mainly Remain - there will inevitably be people disenfranchised by their MP's vote, despite Brexit shaping all our lives for decades to come.

"Now that Ms Greening supports the Liberal Democrats' alternative vote system, their call for a second referendum and their disdain for the people's verdict in 2016, perhaps she might be better joining the party which she seems more at home with".

The prime minister's Brexit plans could be thrown into further chaos with two more pro-EU government ministers understood to be considering quitting their roles in order to back the move.

The former Education Secretary labelled the Prime Minister's Brexit deal a "fudge", and called for a second referendum on leaving the EU.

May's decision not to fight the amendments to her Brexit plan (only agreed at Chequers just over a week ago), tabled by hardline eurosceptic Tories, caused her the departure of yet another government member, as defence minister Guto Bebb resigned in protest at the concessions to hardline Brexiteers.

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The threat from the Brexiteers is not the only danger facing Mrs May, with pro-EU Tories tabling amendments of their own to the Customs Bill and the Trade Bill - which returns to the Commons on Tuesday - which would keep Britain in a customs union with the EU.

"I don't get myself stuck in the past, what matters is the future".

May, vulnerable in parliament after losing her party's majority at an ill-judged election past year, has come under fire from both wings of her party over a hard-won Brexit plan, with one ex-minister calling it the "worst of all worlds".

She told Today: "They are following all the ins and outs, and all the turbulence, in United Kingdom politics extremely carefully". Asked if any other senior Tories backed a second referendum, she said: "Yes I believe so".

Supporters of the amendment, however, indicated it may not be moved to a vote on Monday night, partly because Remain-supporting Conservatives do not want to undermine the prime minister when she is vulnerable on her right flank.

"But in practice having looked through the detail now it just won't and I can not see how, going forward, the common rulebook will be workable in practice".

"It's also quite likely to be either rejected by the European Union or more demands will be made upon it so it will be even less acceptable".

"So I would hope and expect that those of my colleagues that want to get on with Brexit would recognise that this Bill is essential".

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