United Kingdom government faces more bruising Brexit debate in Commons

14 June, 2018, 14:57 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Brexit customs arrangment

Tory Remainers and Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, debating the Brexit bill for a second day in the Commons, said the inclusion of the Northern Ireland amendment meant the only option was to now "reproduce the customs union and the single market".

But there is a dispute over what exactly she promised, with euro-sceptics warning that there must be no question of allowing lawmakers the opportunity to undo Brexit. The UK is clear that the future customs arrangement needs to deliver on the commitments made in relation to Northern Ireland.

The vote on Tuesday is the first of two days of debate that will test May's authority and her plans for leaving the EU. She had nearly lost a general election she never needed to call, squandering her Conservative Party's overall majority and forcing her to rely on the support of the smaller Democratic Unionist Party.

As time ticks by, May can no longer kick decisions down the road, increasingly under pressure from European Union negotiators to come up with detailed positions not only on customs, but also on future trade relations and governance.

He added that some people in parliament were doing "everything in their power" to "neuter" Brexit, specifically accusing 14 rebels in his own party of "taking advantage" of its "tiny majority" to block Brexit. Part B said that if no deal with the European Union was reached by 30 November 2018, the government would have to come to parliament and explain exactly what would happen next. A day after that vote, members of May's Cabinet and rebel Conservative lawmakers presented different interpretations of that promise, with the former saying it would not put the government under control of Parliament, and the latter claiming the opposite. Given that after November 30, the House of Commons looks set to be empowered in the negotiations, it would not be in Barnier's interest to negotiate a harder form of Brexit before the U.K.'s self-imposed deadline.

It followed a last-minute meeting between Mrs May and more than a dozen Tory MPs who considered supporting the motion.

But senior ministers are still at odds about what type of post-Brexit customs arrangement will be best for Britain, meaning talks on the future are unlikely to move far in June.

Euro-sceptics urged the government to hold firm.

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Mrs May has made an art of holding together the factions in her divided party, but it remains to be seen if she can find an amendment that prevents a rebellion from either side.

"DExEU can say whatever they want to say, I'm not going to get involved in their internal issues".

Meanwhile, Brexit campaigners are still concerned that the concession may enable the European Union to force Britain into retaining the closest possible ties with the bloc by weakening the government's hand in the talks.

Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs had earlier walked out of the Commons in protest at what they said was the government's "contempt" for Scotland in the withdrawal process. His party's MPs walked out with him and he warned of a "constitutional crisis" with London.

Part C would give parliament the power to issue direct orders to the government if no deal was in place by 15 February 2019.

"The time has come today to take decisions and make choices", Barnier said.

But the resignation by Phillip Lee, who has always been critical of the government's Brexit strategy, underlined the deep rifts in the party over Brexit that makes such votes anything but easy.

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