Theresa May bows to pro-Brexit pressure to survive parliamentary scare


UK Government publishes White Paper on Brexit

Government whips overcame the rebellion by a dozen Tory lawmakers - reportedly issuing last-ditch threats it would prompt a no-confidence vote in the prime minister - by just seven votes.

The Prime Minister's strategy for leaving the European Union faces fresh turmoil if MPs vote to pass a series of amendments to Brexit legislation passing through parliament.

"With less than nine months until the UK's exit from the European Union, there is little time for both sides to reach agreement on key issues for our sector, such as aviation safety oversight, customs arrangements and environmental standards".

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. Or, thirdly, to stay remaining in the EU. The government, which does not have a Commons majority, has been under pressure from MPs on both sides of the Brexit debate.

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The hardliner amendments of several dozen MPs from the European Research Group led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, basically kill off all of May's proposals in the white paper that meant to create workable solutions for both the United Kingdom and the EU.

But this angered MPs from the party's pro-EU wing who refused to back the new amendments, leading to heated exchanges in the House of Commons as the Customs Bill was debated.

Another Conservative Party legislator, Anna Soubry, who opposes the "hard" Brexit that would see Britain leave the European Union without a trade deal in place, said the government's acceptance of the four amendments mean that Rees-Mogg is now effectively "running Britain".

The White Paper covers mutual recognition of professional qualifications inasmuch as it confirms the agreed position set out in article 25 of the Withdrawal Agreement published on 19 March (covering those who are in the process of requalifying in another Member State when the United Kingdom formally leaves the EU).

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Britons have expressed their outrage at the idea of a second Brexit referendum. But instead of facing them down and fuelling tensions, the government accepted their four amendments.

Remainer Conservative MPs will try to soften the UK's Brexit policy with their own amendments to a key piece of Brexit legislation, the customs bill. Another amendment, to ensure the United Kingdom is out of the EU's Value-Added Tax regime, was backed by 303 to 300, with a Tory rebellion of 11.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said such a vote, listed for Tuesday evening, shows the Government is in "chaos".

Even with those unwanted concessions, the government only barely won a Monday night vote, gaining 305 votes in favour and 302 against. "Margin is closing on these votes & we will keep at it", tweeted Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, which favours a customs tie with the EU.

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An amendment to the bill put forward by Remain-supporting Tory MPs Stephen Hammond and Nicky Morgan will be put to a vote in the Commons this afternoon.

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