Brexit: May defeats rebel Customs Union amendment

Prime Minister Theresa May and Arlene Foster the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party during a visit to Belleek pottery factory on the northern side of the border- Credit Clodagh Kilcoyne  PA Wire

Brexit: May defeats rebel Customs Union amendment

But her plan so far has pleased very few, deepening those divisions in her Conservative Party that have so far hampered progress in talks with the European Union, and triggering a bitter war of words between its Brexit-supporting and pro-EU factions.

May narrowly avoided a defeat in parliament at the hands of the pro-EU lawmakers from her own party in the vote.

It appears the last minute carrot-and-stick double-team by Tory whips was just enough to pressure some rebels to back the government, although the climbdown, one of several by Tory Remainers over the past year, drew criticism from several quarters. He added, "it will be the confident first step that the United Kingdom takes in establishing itself as an independent trading nation".

However, the government narrowly lost (305-to-301) a vote on the medicines regulatory regime, which means the United Kingdom will seek associate membership of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and will in any event follow European regulation.

Despite the government's victory, Labour's Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner said the knife-edge vote showed the Prime Minister was "in office, but not in power".

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May denied a suggestion in parliament that her Brexit plan was dead, and her spokesman said the decision to accept those amendments were "consistent" with the white paper policy document ministers agreed earlier this month.

"It is very frustrating for countries like Ireland and many other European Union countries, and for the European Union task force, to be negotiating with a country that keeps changing its position", he said.

Sterling fell in early European trading on Wednesday as worries about British Prime Minister Theresa May's ability to push through her Brexit plans and a rallying dollar further hit the pound. Eight officials have quit since that summit, including two very high-profile Leave advocates, David Davis and Boris Johnson.

She will also address a group of her backbench MPs this evening.

That related to a bill about post-Brexit regulations of medicines and was only the second defeat in the Brexit legislative process for May since lawmakers started the process of passing laws to end Britain's membership of the EU. The move infuriated pro-European Conservatives, sowing the seeds for Tuesday's unsuccessful rebellion.

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In an interview following his resignation the Aberconwy MP tells me he doesn't intend to become a serial rebel and that the Prime Minister has his 'total support'.

The prime minister is to arrive in Northern Ireland on Thursday for a two-day visit about Brexit, Downing Street has confirmed.

Describing the government's approach as "a total and complete mess", Tony Blair said in an interview that the only way out is to hold another referendum on the issue.

But she added: 'The problem is I don't think she's in charge anymore. "Facing more committed and hard-line opponents - and more of them - than I had".

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission announced that it was fining Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum, for breaching spending limits and refusing to cooperate with its investigation.

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