Tory rounds on government over 'scandalous' handling of trade bill

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

In the preceding vote, the government had fallen to only its second defeat on Brexit in the Commons, as MPs voted by 305 to 301 for continued United Kingdom involvement in the EU's regulatory system for medicines.

May narrowly avoided a defeat in parliament at the hands of the pro-EU lawmakers from her own party in Tuesday's vote, helped by four opposition Labour lawmakers who went against their party to support the government.

Twelve rebel Tory MPs backed an amendment to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU should May fail to strike a deal with Brussels on frictionless trade by late January.

12 Remainer Tory MPs rebelled against the party whip: Heidi Allen, Guto Bebb, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Hammond, Dr Philip Lee, Nicky Morgan, Robert Neill, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry, Dr Sarah Wollaston.

In a tweet posted after Tuesday night's vote, BBC Newsnight's Nicholas Watt reported that Conservative Chief Whip Julian Smith had told his MPs that if May had lost the vote on the Customs Bill, he would have called a vote of confidence in the government on Wednesday.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has sought to calm nerves over a potential hard Brexit, saying amendments to the British government's customs bill would not alter Dublin's position.

The vote was on an amendment to the legislation forced on May by the party's "hard Brexit" wing preventing the United Kingdom from collecting taxes on behalf of the European Union unless the rest of the European Union reciprocated.

"It is becoming more obvious by the day that May is finding it increasingly hard to gain a majority in parliament for "her" Brexit plan", Commerzbank analysts said.

Arlene Foster and Theresa May
Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster visited the Irish border today

The government said being part of an EU customs union would prevent it from striking worldwide trade deals, won the vote by 307 to 301, a slim majority for May of just 6.

Turmoil over Brexit plans has hit the pound.

If a Brexit deal is blocked in Parliament, May's options would be limited, since she does not want Britain to leave the European Union without a deal, with all of the economic damage that would entail.

The most significant problem is timing.

"We can't rely on anything", said Warren East, CEO of United Kingdom engine maker Rolls Royce, who said his firm could start stockpiling parts soon if it looked like Britain was heading toward a disorderly exit from the EU.

Shadow Scotland Secretary Lesley Laird said the fact that no Scottish Conservative MPs rebelled against the government meant "Ruth Davidson's pledge that her MPs would stand up for Scotland was nothing short of a lie".

The commission said the Vote Leave group, backed by senior politicians who included former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, failed to declare 675,000 pounds ($1,304,476 NZD) it spent with Canadian data firm Aggregate IQ.

Today, Mrs May faces into her final Prime Minister's Questions of this parliamentary term.

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum, said Brexit had "sunk further into the Westminster quagmire".

Wimbledon - Thursday Schedule: Ostapenko-Kerber and Serena Williams-Goerges
Open and battled Williams in the Wimbledon final. "I know that she is always pushing you to the limits to play your best tennis". That win in Melbourne marked the start of a stellar year for Kerber , who also won the US Open and Olympic silver.

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