Wednesday 23 January 2019

UK PM defeats rebels over plans to remain in EU customs union

Theresa May. Photo: Francois Lenoir
Theresa May. Photo: Francois Lenoir

William James

British Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly avoided a defeat in parliament at the hands of pro-EU politicians from her own party on Tuesday, fending off a rebellion that threatened to worsen a crisis over her Brexit strategy.

Parliament voted 307 to 301 against an amendment to trade legislation that would have required the government to try to negotiate a customs union arrangement with the EU if, by January 21, 2019, it had failed to negotiate a deal with the bloc that offered frictionless free trade for goods.

The narrow victory is May's third this week, underlining the difficulty she faces in passing legislation on one of the most divisive and important decisions in modern British history with only a minority government and a party at war with itself.

The government did lose a separate vote earlier on Tuesday on its Trade Bill on the regulation of medicines after Brexit.

MPs backed an amendment that would keep the UK in the European medicines regulatory network.


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