Brexit tensions as Tory rebels back a second referendum

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 17, 2018

A separate soft Brexit amendment, calling for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU customs union, was withdrawn on Monday.

Senior Tories have been dismayed by the force of the backlash among the party's grassroots against her push towards a "soft Brexit" leaving Britain closely tied to the European Union for the trade in goods. One pro-EU ex-minister called it the "worst of all worlds", while eurosceptics said the strategy kept Britain too close to the bloc. But instead of facing them down and fuelling tensions, the government accepted their four amendments.

A split image of Conservative hardline Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg and Prime Minister Theresa May. He said he did not expect the bill, or another key bill on trade due to be debated on Tuesday, to be blocked outright by the 650-member parliament.

Brexit-supporting Conservative backbenchers have forced the government to accept a series of amendments to its cross-border trade bill that appear to significantly alter the Brexit deal struck by the cabinet at Chequers.

Where the government might struggle is explaining its acceptance of the demand that the European Union must collect tariffs on Britain's behalf, if London is to do the same - a suggestion one expert said the bloc's negotiators were unlikely to accept. A crucial vote on the collection of customs duties passed by 305 to 302, a majority of just three.

The BBC reports that defence minister Guto Bebb "resigned so he could vote against the government", adding yet another minister to the growing list of resignations.

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Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of ‘running scared’ amid Brexit turmoil

The government's acceptance of the amendments did little to ease the tensions in May's party, which is at war with itself over the Brexit plans.

To dispel the Tory infighting on Tuesday, May is expected to ask MPs to vote to start the parliament's summer recess on Thursday, five days before the expected end to the political season.

She told MPs: "I would not have gone through all the work that I did to ensure that we reached that agreement only to see it changed in some way through these bills".

Speaking in favour of the United Kingdom having its own customs and trade arrangements, Davis said: "The European Union is a slow and not very effective negotiator of free trade agreements, we keep hearing about their negotiating power, their size". The new UK Brexit secretary Dominic Raab will meet the EU'S chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday (19 July). She branded the deal "a fudge".

The amendments could be used as a show of strength by the Brexiteers, who are furious at the Chequers plan, but there were signs at Westminster that Mrs May could be prepared to compromise in an effort to avert a damaging blow to her authority.

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