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After Lords Vote, Emboldened MPs Force Debate To Block Clean Brexit

Yvette Cooper
Leon Neal/Getty

Emboldened by a vote to block a clean Brexit in the Lords Wednesday night, anti-Brexit MPs, including leading Tories, have backed a bid to force a vote on keeping the UK to tied to the bloc’s Customs Union and its rules.

The parliamentary motion was pushed by the chairs of ten select committees, including former Tory ministers Nicky Morgan and Dominic Grieve, as well as Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Rachel Reeves.

It demands the government “include as an objective in negotiations on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union the establishment of an effective customs union between the two territories”.

The motion will be debated next week, with Ms. Cooper claiming: “Parliament needs the chance to steer Brexit negotiations before it is too late.”

She added in a blog post: “Next Thursday is the chance for MPs to speak up for manufacturing, for trade, for Northern Ireland peace – and to urge the Government to negotiate for an effective customs union to be part of the final Brexit deal.

“….If Parliament stays silent until after the deal is done, that is just a recipe for conflict and regret later on. Far better for us to debate this properly now and let Parliamentarians express their view before it is too late.”

Inside a customs union, the UK will be unable to control its trade policy and strike trade deals with emerging markets, meaning many pro-Brexit voices contest Ms. Cooper’s economic claims.

Brexiteers such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, have also argued that the issue of the Irish border is being manipulated to block a clean Brexit, and that checks on the border will not be problematic.

The government lost a vote in the Lords on Wednesday night by a majority of 123, on an amendment to the Brexit withdrawal bill, forcing ministers to report to Parliament on their effort to keep the UK locked in a customs union.

Tory Lord Forsyth said Peers were “playing with fire” and reminded his colleagues they were part of an “unelected house” and called the amendments “a campaign putting Peers against the people”.

The government is expected to lose a series of votes on the Brexit withdrawal bill in the coming days in the upper house, after Peers proposed a massive 388 amendments that could frustrate or reverse Brexit.

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