Not to be forgotten amongst all the talk of peace in Korea and nuclear war with Iran, Brexit has dealt its latest blow to the May Government. In the latest in a long line of Government embarrassments surrounding Brexit, May has faced multiple defeats in the House of Lords this week.
As the Lords debated the Government’s flagship Brexit bill, they passed amendments that received cross-party support and served to make the bill a much softer affair than hard line Brexiteers are calling for, or the one May has promised. The final and most significant setback came when it was time for theLords to discuss that stickiest of Brexit sticking points, the customs union.
Peers rebelled on both sides of the House to back an amendment that would keep Britain in a less stringent version of the single market, the European Economic Area. Significantly, given that Lords amendments must be debated by the elected House of Commons, this has opened the door for a vote on theEEA in the House of Commons. The Lords have effectively given MPs the opportunity to vote on the single market.
This is a serious blow for May’s promise of a hard Brexit, an attempt to appease the Conservative hard liners from a Prime Minister that herself had voted Remain. Despite those on the other side of the debate accusing theunelected chamber of engineering a softer Brexit and usurping the will of thepeople, the Prime Minister’s hard Brexit is looking increasingly unlikely as there just does not appear to be the stomach for it on either side of the Houses. This leaves May in a precarious position, something that is surely familiar to her by now, as the hard line Brexiteers in her Cabinet will be watching her for any signs of a move to soften Brexit and will surely punish her for it publically.
May now faces the unenviable position of finding a middle ground between a hard and soft Brexit. As many have predicted, perhaps it will be a Brexit fudge after all.
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