Six Labour frontbenchers resign in protest at Labour’s Brexit position

Elias Hubbard
June 14, 2018

The government was putting a combative spin on the concessions Tuesday evening: "The Brexit Secretary has set out three tests that any new amendment has to meet - not undermining the negotiations, not changing the constitutional role of Parliament and Government in negotiating worldwide treaties, and respecting the referendum result", a spokesperson for the Brexit department said in a statement. "If the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined", she told them, adding that she was confident that "I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the European Union which is as frictionless as possible".

Lee's resignation came as May's fragile minority government scrambled to shore up support among lawmakers for two days of high-stakes debate and votes on its flagship Brexit bill in the House of Commons. Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other border infrastructure to impede the free flow of people and goods, but the United Kingdom has not said how that can be achieved if it is outside the customs union. "There are choices that we face, there are trade- offs that we have to accept".

The Labour whips - who enforce discipline in the party - instructed lawmakers Wednesday to abstain on an amendment favoring membership of the EEA.

The government has defeated the final group of Lords amendments, by 321 votes to 40 - a majority of 281.

Remain-supporting Dr Lee quit as justice minister live on stage during a speech in London, saying he could not support "how our country's exit from the European Union looks set to be delivered". This might convince some wavering "rebels" to back the government in order to save May and prevent Boris Johnson, the current foreign secretary and a leading so-called "Brexiteer", from seeking to replace her.

The votes of opposition lawmakers will also be important. However, the party is divided on the issue, with a total of 89 Labour MPs choosing to defy Corbyn.

May says the changes would weaken the government's negotiating position, and the government will try to alter or reverse them in the House of Commons on Tuesday and Wednesday.

What do the newspapers say about the votes?

May has promised to give the British parliament a vote on the final deal, but the question is what happens if lawmakers decide to reject it.

The Daily Express, another pro-Brexit tabloid, issued a thinly-veiled threat to lawmakers, saying they should "Ignore the will of the people at [their] peril". It will then be discussed in the upper chamber of parliament on June 18, before returning to the elected lower house for approval at an as-yet unspecified date in the near future.

If the government avoids defeat, is Brexit a done deal?

It also imperils the now invisible border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member.

It would also give hard Brexiteers the chance to "scupper a good deal", she claimed.

It is a politically explosive issue with no obvious solution.

Theresa May is facing one of the biggest tests of her leadership, with Tory rebels threatening to vote against their own party to force through amendments to the bill. He was said to have changed his mind after a promise from May that such a temporary union would last no later than 2021.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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