Theresa May Rejects Idea of Second Brexit Referendum

Cheryl Sanders
July 17, 2018

Three Labour MPs voted with the government.

A sense of chaos gripping the British government Monday was increased when it emerged that parliament is likely to rise for summer break Thursday, five days earlier than had been scheduled.

The ex-foreign secretary used a Daily Telegraph column to ominously say "I will resist - for now - the temptation to bang on about Brexit".

Justine Greening, an ex-Education Secretary who quit the government in January, said May's negotiating strategy would neither please those who wanted a clean break with the European Union nor those who opposed Brexit altogether.

The prospect of continued drama in parliament and doubts over the future of May's "white paper" Brexit plan - which is only a starting point for talks with the European Union - is testing the patience of businesses that depend on cross-border trade.

The bill gives the government the power to set up new worldwide trade relationships after Britain leaves the European Union next March.

The report stage of the bill will also see MPs debate a long-awaited amendment that would keep the United Kingdom in the EU customs union post-Brexit that is supported by Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and two Tory Remainers, Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke.

"We could go for no deal, no deal is still there, it is still possible, but I think the best thing for the United Kingdom is to have deal that sets a good relationship with our trading partners in the future", she told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

Mr Thomson said the prime minister had previously used major speeches to set out her views on what Brexit actually meant, what she was seeking to achieve and what her red lines were.

"I've put down some amendments and we'll see what support they get", he said on Sunday.

Twelve Conservative MPs rebelled against the government to vote for a proposal that would have kept the United Kingdom in the customs union if no alternative plan for frictionless trade with the EU had been agreed by January 2019. One pro-EU ex-minister called it the "worst of all worlds", while eurosceptics said the strategy kept Britain too close to the bloc. Asked if any other senior Tories backed a second referendum, she said: "Yes I believe so".

"So if we were going to find something that was Britain's interest, that delivered on the referendum and that was negotiable, we had to make what is a compromise but is a positive in terms of the benefits it gives us".

Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames tweeted: "I don't think in my 35 years as an MP that I have ever known such a truly unpleasant and deeply uncertain time in the House #soverydifficulttoseeawayaheadsorrytowhingebutitstrue".

Ahead of the vote, Tory MPs were told a defeat would lead to a vote of no confidence in the government, sources told the BBC's John Pienaar.

US President Donald Trump, who visited Britain last week, told May that under whatever deal she comes to with Brussels, she must ensure Britain is free to strike its own trade arrangements with the United States once it leaves the EU.

More wobbles, after the high-profile resignations, could leave the prime minister in a very fragile position.

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