Theresa May survives knife-edge customs vote

Cornelia Mascio
Luglio 17, 2018

This latest Commons vote on Brexit followed chaos in Westminster on Monday when May was forced to ditch her own Brexit policy in order to avoid a defeat at the hands of pro-Leave MPs led by the backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg.

May continues to face growing opposition and pro-EU government ministers have pledged to back a different amendment for the plan to force Britain to join a customs union with the European Union.

"I'm sure Theresa May does not want to split the Conservative Party and therefore she will find that the inevitable outcome of the parliamentary arithmetic is that she will need to change it (the Brexit policy) to keep the party united", Rees-Mogg said. Critics say the move is a bid by a government to escape the prospect of more rebellions in the Conservative Party. Her authority has been weakened with the resignations of major figures Boris Johnson and David Davis and a series of lesser officials who disagree with her Brexit plan. 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".

A special ERG whipping operation, using the WhatsApp messaging service, has been created by Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister who resigned from the government last week, although ERG insiders would not put a number on how many they expected to rebel in the Commons.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary private secretary at the Treasury, the North Cornwall MP Scott Mann, announced he was resigning yesterday in protest at what he called a "watered-down Brexit".

Any vote on moving the break would take place on Wednesday. Tomorrow is also the effective deadline for her internal critics to organise a vote of no confidence in her.

Mrs May has repeatedly ruled out being in a customs union with Brussels after Brexit on the grounds it would leave Britain too closely tied to the EU.

Amid all the upheaval, a second referendum still seems unlikely.

On Monday, May gave in to Tory hardliners by accepting four amendments to the bill, underpinned by her Brexit white paper, meant to toughen up her negotiating stance.

Key New Labour figures have also come forward in criticising the prime minister, with former leader Tony Blair branding the proposals "just mush".

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