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

Prime Minister’s Questions

May said claims that her Brexit plan was now dead in the water were wrong, insisting that the proposed changes submitted by Brexit-supporting Conservatives were consistent with her plans.

But he said the Conservatives had "lost the plot" over Europe, and accused Mr Thomson and his colleagues of making "the worst possible kind of Brexit" more likely.

Anna Soubry, the prominent pro-EU Conservative, also argued that the referendum was not fair and accused Russian Federation of meddling in the campaign, according to the BBC.

Earlier former Brexit minister Steve Baker, who quit along with Mr Johnson and Mr Davis, said the Chequers plan was drawn up in the Cabinet Office while the Department for Exiting the European Union had been reduced to a sham, "Potemkin structure".

There was a blow for May when a member of her team, defense minister Guto Bebb resigned over the government's acceptance of amendments put forward by Brexit supporter.

Former global development secretary Priti Patel, who is proposing one of four amendments to the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour the white paper had "many flaws around our independence and our ability to make free trade agreements". It said it objected to the amendment because it requires the government to take "all necessary steps" to join, while the government wants to join only if it can negotiate reasonable terms.

The Commons voted by 307 to 301 against the amendment from pro-EU Tory rebels that would have wrecked the Prime Minister's Brexit strategy and plunged the government into chaos.

One of the amendments would enshrine in law that there would be no customs border down the Irish Sea between the island of Ireland and the British mainland.

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Facing defeat because of opposition from dozens of pro-Brexit MPs, the government agreed to changes, including a clause to toughen conditions over customs arrangements and another to ensure the United Kingdom is out of the EU's Value-Added Tax system.

That, in turn, will prove the PM with a clear sense of how many MPs would be willing to vote against a final Brexit agreement this Autumn - so it's a big deal.

There were 12 Tory rebels in both the customs and medicines votes - but the government's total was boosted by four Labour MPs in the customs vote.

It is absolutely crucial for May that the Bill passes because failure could mean another week of awful headlines and personal attacks as Tory MPs return from their weekends reporting furious constituents who believe May's Brexit plans represent a betrayal of the project.

There will be no second referendum on Brexit, a spokesman for Britain's Theresa May said on Monday (16 July), repeating the prime minister's belief that her plan for leaving the European Union was the only way to get a deal that meets the government's aims, writes William James.

Another Remainer, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, said the prime minister had, by accepting the amendments, put herself in "a position of considerable weakness". Greening's intervention follows newspaper op-eds from arch-Remainers including Nick Clegg, Peter Mandelson, and Tony Blair.

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

Her gruelling schedule will begin with her last Prime Minister's Question Time clashes with Jeremy Corbyn until September.

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