PM to face fresh Commons test just hours after customs struggle

17 July, 2018, 17:52 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Guto Bebb a Remainer voted against the Government over Brexit effectively quitting his frontbench role

MPs voted by 305 to 302 to support an amendment that critics said would undermine Theresa May's recently-announced negotiating position.

May's majority was cut to just three votes after she adopted Brexiteer amendments to a key piece of customs legislation, and the proposals narrowly passed through the House of Commons late on Monday.

One EU official said the extension could be given if member states see United Kingdom negotiators committed to hammering out a deal day and night.

Remainer conservative MPs warned that the Brexit plan amended by hardliners increase the likelihood of a no-deal divorce, and that prospect is becoming more tangible in Brussels as well.

Some MPs have tabled an amendment to the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, also known as the customs bill, seeking a new customs union with the EU, which May has strongly rejected.

And the gloomy forecast of the furious Government minister I bumped into as he arrived to vote on the trade bill - that this Tory split will bring down the Government - will probably be proved to have been accurate as well.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "Today we have seen the truly calamitous state of the Tory party, as once again the Prime Minister is forced to concede ground to hold together her unholy alliance of MPs".

But the climbdown, a hasty decision mid-afternoon - which smacked of panic - to accept four amendments to the Bill from Mr Rees-Mogg's European Research Group, nearly backfired spectacularly.

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"We were all set [on the Remain side] to drop all our amendments and back it, then suddenly we had these rather extreme last minute manoeuvres, which seem to us to deviate the prime minister from her plan and we weren't prepared to do that".

"She can not be held hostage by them every time there is a hard vote in the House of Commons - and it now looks as though the Chequers plan is completely falling apart", Ms Blackman said.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson, in his first public intervention since his resignation last week, appealed for people to take a more positive view of Britain's prospects outside the EU. "And whether she can continue", Tory lawmaker George Freeman, who used to head May's policy board, said in a posting on Instagram.

She insisted it would allow Britain to control migration, end the jurisdiction of European Union courts and forge its own trade policy - despite US President Donald Trump saying it could "kill" a US-UK trade deal.

"The Tory government is riding roughshod over the Scottish Parliament's voice on Brexit".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What was agreed at Chequers wasn't flawless to us, wasn't ideal to Leavers either, but I think the prime minister had worked exceptionally hard to find a decent first pitch to put to the European Union and move forward from that". I think it was a genuine clever attempt at a compromise that could work. Further tests will come as the Trade Bill is debated on Tuesday.

He said: "I can't possibly dress it up in any other words than it's an absolute shambles and a self-inflicted shambles by Number 10".

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