Published: Tue, July 17, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Brexit vote: Government defeats EU customs union bid

Brexit vote: Government defeats EU customs union bid

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. It prompted the resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davis from the cabinet, as well as the departures of Baker and a string of more junior ministers.

"The British public have votes to leave the European Union".

"I'm sure Theresa May does not want to split the Conservative Party and therefore she will find that the inevitable effect of the parliamentary arithmetic is that she will need to change it (the Brexit policy) to keep the party united", Rees-Mogg said.

Eurosceptics will have a chance to show their strength in the House of Commons later Monday by voting on amendments to a bill setting up May's new customs regime after Brexit.

May's vulnerability in parliament, where she lost her Conservative Party's majority in an ill-judged election past year, was laid bare on Monday, when her decision to accept demands of pro-Brexit lawmakers stirred a rebellion among those who want to keep the closest possible ties in the EU.

The prime minister was accused of "caving in" to Eurosceptic demands.

May's leadership has been precarious since she unveiled her proposed new Brexit negotiating strategy at her Chequers residence and detailed it in a white paper last week.

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

The latest key vote was on customs, with a debate sparked by Tory MP Stephen Hammond's amendment to the Trade Bill.

"When MPs (members of parliament) bring forward amendments, we obviously look at those", he told reporters.

A spokeswoman for May said the amendments are consistent with the original plan. It is a technical bill and was not originally meant to define new trade policy. "I say that's not acceptable", she told BBC television.

The ultra pro-EU former Labour prime minister Tony Blair described May's compromise position as "mush" which should be "decisively" rejected by parliament.

He said it was a "well-intentioned attempt to do Brexit whilst minimising the economic disruption", but it would not work and lead to a "confused outcome", with Britain bound by European Union rules but unable to change them. It had also won the backing of Labour and the SNP.

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

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