Theresa May avoids major Brexit defeat on customs union amendment

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 17, 2018

The most senior parliamentarian so far to call for a second vote, her intervention gave new impetus to Remainers clinging to hopes of staying in the European Union.

It gives the government the power to build new trade relationships around the world after the United Kingdom leaves the EU, and MPs who support staying in the EU's customs union are seeking to change its wording.

But the government, which says a customs union would stop it striking new trade deals, won by 307 to 301.

In dramatic scenes in the House of Commons, ministers made a last-ditch effort to stave off defeat by offering to introduce amendments in the House of Lords which would deal with "the essence" of rebel Tories' concerns over future customs arrangements.

The "common rulebook" plan "hands control of large swathes of our economy to the European Union and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense", he wrote to the British Prime Minister, Theresa May.

However she insisted her plan offered the only workable solution to maintain "frictionless" trade with the European Union and avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic while allowing the United Kingdom to strike trade deals around the world.

Commons sources said the Government is going to bring forward a motion to end the parliamentary term early on Thursday, ditching plans to sit on Monday and Tuesday next week.

"The inevitable outcome of the parliamentary arithmetic is that she will need to change it to keep the party united", he told BBC television.

David Davis quit as Brexit minister and Boris Johnson stepped down as foreign minister last week over May's Brexit blueprint, which would keep Britain economically close to the EU.

EU affairs ministers will soon have their first chance to discuss the UK's white paper, the UK's policy on its relationship with the EU after Brexit, and how they would tackle key issues, such as trade between the EU and UK.

"The inevitable outcome of the parliamentary arithmetic is that she will need to change it to keep the party united", he told BBC television.

"Labour is clear that a new comprehensive customs union with the EU after Brexit is the best way to protect jobs, the economy and to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland".

The result will come as a huge relief to the prime minister amid pressure from pro-Brexit MPs not to soften her position on Britain's departure from the EU.

The skirmishes are expected to continue Tuesday when a trade bill is debated.

Labour's Paula Sherriff said she had "important meetings" scheduled for next week and would vote against the move.

She tweeted: "I will not be voting for an early recess".

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