Published: Tue, July 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

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

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

As Theresa May's government continues to reel over its divisive plan to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union, the Prime Minister has rejected the idea of a second vote that would give the British people another say before the country officially hits the exits in March 2019.

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a concerted rebellion from the hard Brexit wing of the Conservative party on Monday, as MPs unhappy with her Chequers compromise prepare to mount a show of strength by voting for their amendments on a crucial customs bill.

On Monday night, May narrowly avoided defeat on two, hardline-Brexiteer-backed, amendments to the so-called Chequers deal.

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"Our proposal sets out the right deal for the United Kingdom - honoring the democratic decision of the British people, protecting the integrity of our precious union, supporting growth, maintaining security and safeguarding British jobs", May said at the opening of the Farnborough Airshow.

He has become the ninth Tory MP to hand in his resignation in just ten days after David Davis and Boris Johnson resigned last week.

On Monday, May gave in to Tory hardliners by accepting four amendments to the bill, underpinned by her Brexit white paper, meant to toughen up her negotiating stance.

But Peter Bone, another signatory to the amendments, said the whole situation was a "shambles" and called for the Chequers plan to be taken off the table.

May's plan has drawn criticism from members of her party as well as pro-Brexit members.

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The worldwide trade secretary told the BBC that feelings were running high but calls from some Tories to stay in a customs union, which will be voted on later, would send completely the wrong message to the EU.

A spokesman for the prime minister said the amendments were "consistent" with the White Paper policy document which developed the Chequers plan.

One of the amendments practically says that the United Kingdom should not be collecting tariffs for Brussels unless the European Union does the same for Britain, one of the key ideas in May's original Brexit white paper that was created to keep the Irish border invisible.

In an article in the Mail on Sunday, May urged eurosceptics to keep their "eyes on the prize", warning: "If we don't, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all".

Rees-Mogg, the leader of the powerful European Research Group of eurosceptic Conservative MPs, said May still had time to change course and warned the current plan would split the party.

"The inevitable effect of the parliamentary arithmetic is that she will need to change it to keep the party united", he told BBC television.

But on July 6, May came off the fence and proposed what's become known as her "Chequers Plan", which would keep the United Kingdom close to the EU after it has left, but outside the customs union.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the ERG, told the BBC "we'll have an idea of the numbers at 10pm on Monday evening" while one ERG insider added that they were "intensely relaxed" about the number of rebels they had signed up.

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