May narrowly avoids defeat in parliament on European Union trade laws

May bows to Brexit pressure in parliament

MPs are due to vote on the proposal later, but Brexit will dominate debate in the Commons until then following the referral of the Vote Leave campaign to the police over a breach of spending limits during the referendum campaign.

With her Conservative Party at war with itself over Brexit, Theresa May has little room for manoeuvre and her government's position in Parliament is precarious.

In two votes in the United Kingdom parliament this week, the latest on Tuesday night, May only just avoided defeat at the hands of pro-EU members of her party.

The third reading of the government's Trade Bill was passed comfortably by 317 votes to 286, with peers now set to scrutinise the legislation. "Yesterday changed that", MP Phillip Lee, who resigned as a junior minister over Brexit earlier this year, told lawmakers.

But former transport minister Mr Hammond insisted its provisions were "entirely in line" with Mrs May's Brexit White Paper.

May said Monday that her plan honors the wishes of British voters - who in June 2016 backed Brexit in a 52 percent to 48 percent vote - while also protecting industry and security.

In a sometimes heated debate Conservative Anna Soubry said the plan May agreed at her meeting with ministers at her Cheqeurs retreat had now been wrecked by caving in to no-deal Brexiteers.

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May is battling to unite her Conservative Party around her Brexit blueprint formally unveiled last week following months of cabinet infighting.

Shadow global trade minister Bill Esterson accused the Government of a "power grab", saying that now the United Kingdom has scrutiny on trade agreements through the European Parliament and through the EU Scrutiny Committee which will be lost in this Bill.

The "Brexiteers" were angry that May's Chequers agreement - a plan for a Brexit strategy hatched at May's official country residence 10 days ago - envisaged a close future relationship with the EU.

Pro-EU lawmakers have tabled a change to the wording of the bill to try to force the government to pursue a customs union with the EU if ministers fail to reach an agreement which establishes "a frictionless free trade area for goods".

The votes were preceded by frantic activity in the Commons, with live negotiations conducted on the floor of the chamber as Government whips led by Julian Smith made approaches to rebel MPs.

The crucial vote came moments after the Government went down to defeat by 305-301 over medicines regulation.

Worldwide trade minister George Hollingbery, introducing the Bill at report stage on behalf of the government, said the legislation was about "continuity".

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