Theresa May suffers further Brexit defeats from the House of Lords

Clay Curtis
May 9, 2018

This prompted Brexit minister Lord Callanan to actually agree with the remain-supporting peer for once, saying: "The amendment may have been tabled with one eye on the withdrawal agreement, but ministerial colleagues and I have been very clear throughout this Bill's passage, both within this House and in the other place, that this Bill's aim is just to create a functioning statute book as we depart from the European Union".

The government lost four votes on its crucial EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday, with the most serious requiring May to negotiate to keep the United Kingdom in the European Economic Area.

His comments drew criticism from pro-Brexit peers, including Conservative member Michael Forsyth who described the amendment as part of an attempt by "a number of people in this house who wish to reverse the decision of the British people".

The vote comes as May struggles to navigate a course in Brexit negotiations which placates her own party, and particularly members of her own cabinet. Those proposing the amendment deny the charge.

The house of Lords at the Houses of Parliament in London on October 31, 2017.

Labour peers have been instructed not to back the cross-party amendment to keep Britain inside the single market, but dozens could defy the party leadership.

The shadow foreign secretary said "we want to remain in the customs union" despite Labour's official position being that the United Kingdom should strike a customs union deal which would give Britain a say over future trade deals.

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The Government has suffered four further defeats, and 14 in total, over its flagship Brexit legislation in the Lords.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators waving EU and Union flags are reflected in a puddle in front of the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, March 28, 2018.

It will now go to Commons MPs who will either reject or accept the proposal.

Opposition parties in the Lords and rebels in May's Conservative Party voted 298 to 227 in favour of the amendment that means Britain should participate, or have formal relations, with European Union agencies after leaving the bloc next year. Both houses have to agree on the final wording of the bill before it can become law.

Forsyth, who is a former Conservative cabinet minister said the amendment undermined the government's negotiating position.

The two sides of the government remain at loggerheads nearly two years after Britain voted to leave the European Union and less than a year before it officially exits the bloc on March 29, 2019.

"Crucially, the Bill left (the House of Commons) reflecting the reality of worldwide law under the Treaty of the European Union and I see no reason therefore to change the Bill any further".

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