MPs force major soft Brexit shift

Blanche Robertson
June 14, 2018

Parliament will vote on another series of so called "Brexit wrecking" amendments later on Tuesday, some of which seek to commit the government to remaining a member of the EU single market and "a customs union", while another aims to steer the United Kingdom toward membership of the European Economic Area.

You might never have heard of him, but Phillip Lee, a minister, has just resigned from his job in government in public over what he described as the government's "detrimental" Brexit policy.

She said her constituents "want to have a sense that we can turn the tap on and off when we choose". It also increases the prospect of MPs forcing a referendum on the terms of the eventual deal or even of a snap election before the end of the year.

"I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill".

But in a last-ditch concession by the Government to swerve a revolt, the PM is indicating that it will put forward two of the three parts of Mr Grieve's amendment when the bill returns to the House of Lords.

"First, we must never do anything that undermines the Government's negotiating position or encourages delays in the negotiations", Mr Davis said. Given that after November 30, the House of Commons looks set to be empowered in the negotiations, it would not be in Barnier's interest to negotiate a harder form of Brexit before the U.K.'s self-imposed deadline.

Cross party MPs voted 372-126 against a House of Lords' amendment to the EU withdrawal bill, to force the government to negotiate remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) after Brexit, on Wednesday.

Theresa May's government narrowly wins key Brexit vote with concessions to lawmakers
The government averted a rebellion on Tuesday over whether Parliament should have a decisive say in such a scenario. May warned her MPs: "The message we send to the country through our votes this week is important".

"It's not practical, it's not desirable and it's not appropriate", he said. Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other border infrastructure to impede the free flow of people and goods, but the United Kingdom has not said how that can be achieved if it is outside the customs union.

Parliamentary debates about complex legal amendments rarely rouse much heat, but passions run high over anything to do with Brexit.

Pro-Brexit tabloid the Sun warned lawmakers on Tuesday's front page that they had a choice: "Great Britain or great betrayal". The Daily Express featured the British flag as its front page with the headline: "Ignore the will of the people at your peril".

She said her committee had heard evidence about the measures other European Union member states were applying to introduce some control over migration, which she had been told could be a way of the United Kingdom having full single market access without free movement.

The pro-independence party accuses the British government of trying to seize powers that will be handed back from Brussels after Brexit and which the SNP believes should go to Scotland's Edinburgh-based parliament.

Yvette Cooper, the former shadow home secretary who now chairs the home affairs select committee said she would obey the party whip and not vote for membership of the EEA only because she wanted to try to build consensus. May's Cabinet is divided between ministers including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who support a clean break with the European Union, and those such as Treasury chief Philip Hammond who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain's biggest trading partner. "The end of March 2019, we leave the E.U. Full stop".

A paper laying out the U.K. government position, due to be published this month, has been delayed because the Cabinet can not agree on a united stance.

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