UK PM May narrowly avoids defeat in parliament on trade laws

The Chequers plan is the only way to get a Brexit deal that meets the government's objectives, according to UK Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman.

In a series of votes, May could come under attack from arch-Brexiteers in her own Conservative Party who think her plans have watered down Brexit and will leave Britain shackled to the European Union once it leaves the bloc in March. Greening, who resigned after the cabinet reshuffle in January, said the referendum should offer a first and second preference vote so that a consensus can be reached.

In his letter he wrote: "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". However, a further test lies ahead immediately when MPs debate a trade bill on Tuesday.

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 EU has been urging since last December for the United Kingdom to agree to a so-called "backstop solution" on Ireland that would see Northern Ireland retain parts of the customs union and the single market necessary to keep the border invisible until a more permanent solution is found.

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".

May's government on Monday avoided a humiliating defeat in Parliament when it narrowly won another vote over her Brexit customs bill - but only after reluctantly accepting amendments put forward by Brexit hardliners.

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Amid the chaos, former Brexit minister David Davis urged fellow Tory MPs to support Theresa May's customs bill in the Commons today.

The BBC reports that defence minister Guto Bebb "resigned so he could vote against the government", adding yet another minister to the growing list of resignations.

After the turmoil of the past 24 hours, it's hard to see how the Prime Minister can salvage the deal.

Many pro-Europeans also oppose the plan as a poor substitute for European Union membership, and calls are growing for a second referendum amid increasing parliamentary gridlock.

But neither move addresses the problem that the Chequers deal is opposed by both Leavers and Remainers now and looks doomed.

A cross-party group of MPs have tabled amendments to Monday's bill - the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, also known as the customs bill - seeking a new customs union with the EU.

Remainer conservative MPs warned that the Brexit plan amended by hardliners increase the likelihood of a no-deal divorce, and that prospect is becoming more tangible in Brussels as well.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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