Theresa May survives knife-edge customs union vote

BREXIT BRIEFING | ANALYSISJuly 19 2018 12:00pm The Times Brussels moves to solve border dramanew Bruno Waterfield

Theresa May narrowly avoided a humiliating defeat on her Brexit plans tonight after Tory Remainers, including Nicky Morgan, accused Brexiteers of trying to scupper the Prime Minister's Chequers plan.

She also saw off an attempt by pro-European Union rebels in her own party require the government to try to negotiate a customs union arrangement with the EU if, by January 21, 2019, it had failed to negotiate a frictionless free trade deal with the bloc.

But despite speculation suggesting a potential setback for Mrs May, the trade bill amendment was defeated by 307 votes to 301.

MPs backed an amendment by 305 votes to 301 that would keep the United Kingdom in the European medicines regulatory network. In both votes, Brexit-supporting Labour MPs backed the government.

She told HuffPost UK: "Over my 29 years in Parliament, I have been censured many times by the CLP".

No fast track capacity to create a new customs union.

The successful amendment requires Mrs May to make it an objective in negotiations with Brussels to ensure that the United Kingdom can continue to participate in the regulatory network operated by the European Medicines Agency.

The motion Hoey co-signed with the DUP would have made it illegal for the UK Government to make customs arrangements for Northern Ireland separate to Great Britain.

"It is becoming more obvious by the day that May is finding it increasingly hard to gain a majority in Parliament for "her" Brexit plan", Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

The idea of a referendum sequel has always been popular among Remainers - those who voted to stay in the European Union - who believe that the campaign around Brexit was infused with lies and propaganda, and that Leavers, their opponents, never had a coherent plan for withdrawal.

Mrs May won the vote on the amendments by just three votes, with opposition from Labour and pro-Brussels Tory MPs, and now her government is rushing to send MPs away from Parliament, it is claimed, as rumours of a potential revolt or leadership challenge build.

6pm 1922 Committee - This influential group of Tory backbench MPs can be vocal and hard for their leaders.

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.

Two top pro-Brexit ministers, Boris Johnson and David Davis, quit in protest last week, while a string of junior walkouts have followed suit, including two more officials on Monday. "The Prime Minister has been clear that we will leave the European Union, but in a way that does not endanger Shropshire jobs, or the county and borough's prosperity", he said.

While critics have said accepting the changes to the legislation mean the prime minister's recently announced Chequers deal was "dead in the water", Mrs May insisted this was "absolutely wrong" and that the changes were "consistent" with her plan.

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum, said Brexit had "sunk further into the Westminster quagmire".

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