The Prime Minister has begged pro-Brussels Tory MPs not to rebel and support anti-Brexit amendments from the Lords this Tuesday, delaying a critical showdown on trade rules.
Theresa May told the potential rebels she would work to secure a “customs arrangement” with the European Union (EU), rather than remaining in “a customs union” as the House of Lords voted for in their amendment to be considered the House of Commons Tuesday.
Her minority government could easily be defeated on the customs issue if pro-Brussels Tories back the Labour Party and other anti-Brexit MPs, as well as on 14 other amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill from Peers.
UKIP’s General Secretary Paul Oakley said Tories who rebel this Tuesday would be “betraying Brexit” and urged them to stick to their promises to leave the EU.
Any Tory MP who's thinking of betraying Brexit over the Withdrawal Bill today must not forget this promise. We certainly won't. pic.twitter.com/gj0pjXjXao
— Paul Oakley UKIP (@PaulJamesOakley) June 12, 2018
At a meeting of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers Monday night, Mrs. May pleaded with MPs, asking them to imagine how weak the government will appear to Brussels bureaucrats if they are defeated on this key piece of Brexit legislation.
“I am trying to negotiate the best deal for Britain,” she said according to The Times. “But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined. We must think about the message parliament will send to the European Union this week.”
However, anti-Brexit Tory MP Dr. Phillip Lee was unconvinced, resigning from his government job as a Justice Minister and publicly attacking the Prime Minister at the 1922 meeting.
Today and tomorrow, all MPs have the opportunity to pass the EU Withdrawal Bill, secure a smooth Brexit transition, and send the PM to Brussels in the best position to get the best trade deal for Britain and the EU. Time for a united front. pic.twitter.com/8ffFVsHgPE
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) June 12, 2018
“I voted to remain in the European Union and have not changed my view that continued membership would have been the better strategic course,” he wrote on Twitter.
The leading Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told LBC radio he also did not expect the likes of pro-Brussels MP Ken Clarke to not rebel but added that some MPs might be persuaded by the compromises to avoid helping Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
“I think there will be some unity this week, it won’t be perfect but it ought to be enough to get the Bill through and to reinforce the strength of Theresa May’s position,” he said.
I am incredibly sad to have had to announce my resignation as a minister in Her Majesty’s Government so that I can better speak up for my constituents and country over how Brexit is currently being delivered. Statement to follow shortly on my website.
— Dr Phillip Lee MP (@DrPhillipLeeMP) June 12, 2018
Other amendments from the Lords to be debated Tuesday include transferring the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law and one forcing the government to negotiate to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA) like Norway.
Another would give Parliament the power to approve or deny the Brexit withdrawal agreement and transitional measures, preferably before the European Parliament debates and votes on it.
And one demands the government pushes to maintain the current agreement with the EU allowing “unaccompanied child refugees” into the UK.