May fights off final Brexit challenges in Parliament
LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May defeated the final challenges to her Brexit blueprint in Parliament yesterday, leaving plans for Britain’s departure from the European Union largely on track but her authority weakened.
Lawmakers supported the Government’s position to reject amendments to the EU withdrawal Bill that challenged May’s commitment to leave the bloc’s customs union and single market.
May had faced the prospect of losing the vote on the customs union after rebels indicated their support for a change introduced by the House of Lords to require ministers to report what efforts they had made to secure a customs union.
A Government proposal to instead report its efforts to secure a customs ‘‘arrangement’’ was enough to postpone a more searching debate.
In the end, Parliament accepted that proposal, voting 325 to 298 to reject the House of Lords amendment.
It also voted, by 327 to 126, against remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA), which offers tarifffree access to the EU’s single market in return for accepting free movement of people, goods, services and capital.
With not all rebels persuaded May’s plan could prevent an economic shock after Brexit, some said they would challenge her plans to leave the customs union again during votes on Bills on trade and customs that will be be brought back to the House before July 24.
The deepest rifts were exposed in the Labour Party. Many of its proEU lawmakers went against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, by supporting the vote and not his amendment, which argued for a new single market deal with the EU. It was lost 322 to 240. — Reuters