After compromise, May set to avoid defeat in parliament on customs

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 14, 2018

The battle over customs is far from over.

"That is why I will be voting for my frontbench's amendment but also the Lords' amendment too".

Yesterday May agreed in principle to give MPs significant powers to shape the Brexit process.

Pro-Brexit members of the government want to be able to play the "no deal" card, but the House of Commons, where pro-EU voices are stronger, would nearly certainly reject the idea.

By a vote of 324 to 298, the House of Commons on Tuesday rejected a move to give lawmakers the power to send the government back to the negotiating table if they don't like the terms of the Brexit deal struck with the EU.

The Prime Minister was forced to mollify different parts of her party - including those arch Brexiteers who would rather the United Kingdom crashed out of the European Union with no deal than the government agree to a soft Brexit, as well as rebellious Conservative MPs who want the public to have another vote on what Brexit will look like. A total of 89 Labour MPs defied Corbyn in the vote on this amendment, making it the party's biggest Brexit rebellion yet.

On Tuesday night MPs passed a little-noticed amendment to the EU Withdrawal bill, which many MPs now believe could effectively force Britain to stay in the single market after Brexit.

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 worldwide treaties, and respecting the referendum result", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement.

Pro-EU Conservative MPs, Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan.

Mrs May is now expected to get through the remaining Brexit votes unscathed, with a potentially explosive clash over the customs union already defused.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain's departure from the European Union, direct from Business Insider's political reporters.

"That resulted in a Remainer becoming our Prime Minister", he said.

In another victory for May, the Commons also rejected a proposal by the Lords that would have required government negotiators to keep Parliament informed about the measures to maintain the country's place in the customs union.

"The government can not demonstrate the flexibility necessary for a successful deal if its hands are tied midway through that process", Davis said.

Another Conservative Remainer, former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan, denied that the rebels had been "played" by the Prime Minister.

The senior Remainer said he hoped a compromise would be found and warned "this isn't the end of the matter" if that did not happen.

Instead, it looked like it was the turn of the opposition Labour Party to expose its divisions, over whether to remain a member of the European Economic Area, which offers tariff-free access to the EU's single market in return for accepting free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

327 MPs voted against the EEA, while 126 voted for it. Majority: 201.

It seems clear that no one is really sure which side - either the hard Brexiters or the hard Remainers - won the day, or what the impact of the government's supposed concession on the clause about a "meaningful vote" for MPs will be.

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