Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Weakened, UK's May defeats final Brexit challenges in parliament

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Steven Clarke | 14 June, 2018, 03:45

Lee, who voted for Britain to remain in the E.U.in the 2016 referendum, said in a statement he was "incredibly sad" to resign but did so in order to vote against the government's position on a key amendment to the bill.

Attempts to keep the United Kingdom in the European Economic Area after Brexit have been defeated in the House of Commons, amid a major Labour revolt over the issue.

Underlining the fear that some of her Conservatives could vote against the government, May addressed her own lawmakers at a meeting of its 1922 Committee in a last-ditch appeal for them to unite around her plans to leave the EU. Such a vote would give the lower house more power to set the government's "direction" if the house rejects the agreement.

Labour split three ways as the Commons debated a Lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill calling for EEA membership to remain on the negotiating table.

The government has avoided a major defeat on its Brexit bill by 324 votes to 298 after a late concession.

If she is defeated in the House of Commons, it will be yet another blow to a prime minister whose authority has been challenged several times since she lost the Conservative Party's majority in an ill-judged election previous year.

MPs voted down the Lords amendment on "sifting regulations" by a majority of 22.

The government agreed a compromise with potential Tory rebels earlier this week to work towards a "customs arrangement" with the EU.

The customs amendment would have forced May's government to take steps to keep Britain in a customs union with the European Union after Brexit.

Pro-EU Conservative MPs, Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan.

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Prime Minister Theresa May isn't the only United Kingdom political leader with a party that's divided and increasingly belligerent over Europe. As happened yesterday, MPs, including from the government, can propose amendments to the Lords' amendments too. The government should be investing more in housing, the health service and education to relieve pressure on services, he said, not ending free movement of labor.

This was confirmed to BI last week by a leading Tory rebel, who said: "The real fight will come with the trade bill later this year".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Philip Lee said a choice between "bad and worse" options was not giving MPs a meaningful vote.

Corbyn instructed his MPs to abstain on the amendment, meaning they should neither vote for or against it.

Mr McDonnell also sought to allay business concerns about the prospect of a Labour government, insisting that he would be "open and transparent" about the party's policies and there was "nothing up my sleeve".

Laura Smith resigned from her junior shadow cabinet role in the run-up to the vote.

The MP - who represents the Leave-voting area Crewe and Nantwich - was followed by Ged Killen, Ellie Reeves, Tonia Antoniazzi and Anna McMorrin.

The upshot is that May has survived another day in the battle to extract Britain from the European Union - and may yet pull off a compromise that wins the support of both wings of her party - but it is the rebel Remainers who believe they are now in the ascendency.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain's departure from the European Union, direct from Business Insider's political reporters.

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