Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Tory rounds on government over 'scandalous' handling of trade bill

May bows to Brexit pressure in parliament Prime Minister fends off challenge to Brexit customs plans by just six votes
Ellis Copeland | 18 July, 2018, 02:53

The British government has narrowly avoided a defeat on its Customs Bill after agreeing to Brexiteers' demands to change its wording. But in a crucial vote on her Customs Bill, there was a close shave when she won by just three votes, 305 against 302.

The Prime Minister was saved from a humiliating reverse by the votes of four Labour Brexiteers - and one now sitting as an independent - who backed the Government in the crucial division.

In her article, Greening criticised May's plan: "We'll be dragging Remain voters out of the European Union for a deal that means still complying with many European Union rules, but now with no say on shaping them".

He said: "I fear elements of the Brexit white paper will inevitably put me in direct conflict with the views expressed by a large section of my constituents".

May is battling to unite her Conservative Party around her Brexit blueprint formally unveiled last week following months of cabinet infighting.

Mr Rees-Mogg said the amendments were "broadly in line" with government policy, which is why the government accepted them.

Shadow global trade minister Bill Esterson accused the Government of a "power grab", saying that now the United Kingdom has scrutiny on trade agreements through the European Parliament and through the EU Scrutiny Committee which will be lost in this Bill.

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The amendments undercut parts of May's Chequers agreement, a plan for Britain's exit from the European Union that some lawmakers said watered down Britain's future independence.

May's centre-right Conservative minority government counts on the backing of Northern Ireland's biggest party for a slender Commons majority, leaving it highly vulnerable to rebellions.

The entire trade bill passed by 31 votes and now moves to the House of Lords for further scrutiny before returning to the Commons for a final vote.

But the string of concessions infuriated Conservative Remainers who refused to back the amendments to the legislation.

However, the government did suffer an unexpected defeat on a separate amendment which means they will now be required to seek to secure an agreement that allows Britain to have continued participation in the European medicines regulatory framework.

The Conservative rebels were the long-time pro-EU MP Ken Clarke, Heidi Allen, Guto Bebb, Richard Benyon, Jonathan Djanogly, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Hammond, Philip Lee, Nicky Morgan, Robert Neill, Mark Pawsey, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston.

Plus Andrew Griffiths, a key ally and former chief of staff for Theresa May resigned this weekend over inappropriate sexual texts to constituents, making 10 government resignations in just 8 days.

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