Brexit tensions as Tory rebels back a second referendum

Prime Minister’s Questions

But the pro-EU lawmakers lost Tuesday by six votes - 307 to 301.

The rebels included Guto Bebb, MP for the marginal seat of Aberconwy in North Wales and a junior defence minister, who dramatically resigned from his government job as he entered the No lobby with his fellow rebel MPs.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the legislation would be "the confident first step that the United Kingdom takes towards establishing itself as an independent trading nation for the first time in over 40 years".

They said the changes would greatly limit May's ability to move forward with the plan that prompted two hardliners in her Cabinet to resign in protest last week - and fresh resignations of lesser figures Monday.

May has vowed to stick to her plan to negotiate the closest possible trade ties with the European Union, saying her strategy is the only one that can meet the government's aims for Brexit, the biggest shift in Britain's foreign and trade policy for decades.

Johnson returned to the political fray with his first column for Monday's Daily Telegraph since he resigned from the government over the Chequers compromise.

Mrs May only survived the threat of a major rebellion by Brexiteer Tory MPs on Monday by accepting their amendments to another piece of trade legislation.

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The prime minister also said that the taxation (cross border trade) bill, which seeks to allow the United Kingdom to implement its own customs regime after Brexit, and a related trade bill on Tuesday, were "an important part of our no-deal preparations" because both were necessary to prepare the United Kingdom for life as an independent trading nation.

Noting the deep divisions in government and parliament on the way forward, Greening said voters must decide - becoming the most senior member of May's Conservative party to back the idea.

He described Ms Greening's call for a second referendum as "a little ill-thought out", saying: "If we wanted to extend the uncertainty for another long period this is one way of doing it".

A spokesman for the prime minister said the amendments were "consistent" with the White Paper policy document which developed the Chequers plan.

Some Brexiteers, including Mr Thomson, believe the Chequers plan will keep the United Kingdom too closely tied to the EU.

The hardline amendments also foresee the United Kingdom having a different Value-Added Tax system from the European Union, and would make any special arrangements for Northern Ireland illegal by excluding the establishment of a customs border in the Irish sea. However defeat for May was averted with the help of four pro-Brexit Labour MPs.

Theresa May now faces a grilling from both Conservative and opposition MPs over her Brexit plans. All of them had previously backed the medicine regulation amendment, except for Ms Hoey who did not vote.


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