Growing call for new referendum as Theresa May’s Brexit woes continue

Aaron Brown
July 18, 2018

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, meets scientists at Jodrell Bank in Macclesfield, Britain May 21, 2018.

In one of the rowdiest debates in parliament on Brexit so far, pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry said: "The only reason that the government has accepted these amendments is because it is frightened of somewhere in the region of 40 members of parliament, the hard no-deal Brexiteers, who should have been seen off a long time ago".

If Mrs May loses the vote, the government will be forced to ensure Britain remains in a customs union with the EU if no agreement on trade is reached by January 2019.

Sterling rebounded from the day's lows against the dollar after the government sidestepped defeat on the amendment.

Tuesday's legislation was technical in nature - focusing on converting trade deals between the European Union and third countries into bilateral deals with Britain, and was not originally meant to define new trade policy.

Theresa May has seen off a damaging Commons rebellion as Tory remainers narrowly lost a long-awaited vote on the customs union - but earlier suffered her second ever Brexit defeat, on European medicines regulation.

Remainer Conservative MPs will try to soften the UK's Brexit policy with their own amendments to a key piece of Brexit legislation, the customs bill. Near miss on customs union amendment.

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A Labour whips source confirmed that the party would be opposing the early recess motion, telling City A.M.: "There are important issues facing this country and the general public won't understand if MPs break up early for their holidays".

May is expected to face many more challenges to her strategy after a summer break as she works her way through a mountain of Brexit-related legislation.

"The only solution is to take the final Brexit decision out of the hands of deadlocked politicians, away from the backroom deals, and give it back to the people", she said.

Facing defeat because of opposition from dozens of pro-Brexit MPs, the government agreed to changes, including a clause to toughen conditions over customs arrangements and another to ensure the United Kingdom is out of the EU's Value-Added Tax system.

One pro-EU ex-minister called it the "worst of all worlds", while eurosceptics said the strategy kept Britain too close to the bloc.

With her Conservative Party at war with itself over Brexit, Theresa May has little room for manoeuvre and her government's position in Parliament is precarious. The bill gives the government the power to build new trade relationships around the world after the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

May's 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.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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