Sat, 22 June 2024

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Pro-EU Tories vow to inflict defeat on Theresa May in revenge for Brexiteer Commons victory

Liz Bates

2 min read

Pro-EU Conservative MPs are planning their own Brexit rebellion after the Eurosceptic wing of the party successfully reshaped Theresa May’s plans in a Commons showdown.

On a night of Parliamentary drama, MPs voted 305-302 in favour of an amendment to the Cross-Border Trade Bill making it illegal for Britain collect tariffs on behalf of the EU unless Brussels agrees to do the same with UK levies.

Tory MPs were whipped to support the change, even though it appeared to contradict a key plank of the Cabinet agreement struck at Chequers on the Government's Brexit approach.

The amendment was one of four which had been tabled by pro-Brexit Tories from the European Research Group and accepted by the Government - prompting accusations that Mrs May had "caved in" to Leave-backing rebels on her backbenches.

But that move sparked fury among pro-European Conservative backbenchers, who have now tabled their own amendment to the Trade Bill being debated by MPs on Tuesday.

Under the propsed changes tabled by Tories Nicky Morgan and Stephen Hammond alongside two Labour MPs - Britain would be compelled to join a customs union with the EU if no agreement is reached on a post-Brexit free trade area by 21 January, 2019.

If Labour MPs join forces with enough Tory rebels, they could inflict a major defeat on the Prime Minister.

A source told the Sun: "We weren’t set on pushing the amendment before the Government gave in to the ERG.”

But a Number Ten source criticised the plan, saying it "risks incentivising the EU not to negotiate if they know that not playing ball ends with us being forced into a customs union".

Meanwhile, The Sun also reports that Olly Robbins, Mrs May's top Brexit adviser, has recruited 50 of the top negotiators from the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The move will see the civil servants move to the Cabinet Office directly under his control in a move being described as a "power grab" by the top mandarin.

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