Britain’s EU referendum was legitimate, says PM May’s…

Jeannie Matthews
July 20, 2018

Johnson resigned from government rather than accept May's plan.

Twelve Tory "remainer" MPs rebelled against the party whip and backed the amendment while four Labour Brexit-supporting MPs rebelled against their party whip and backed the government.

Johnson, a thorn in May's side when he was in office, used a parliamentary convention to explain his decision to resign from government 10 days after quitting.

Johnson, who is seen as a potential challenger to May, warned that her plan would leave Britain in "miserable permanent limbo" and was "Brexit in name only".

"What should have become clear to [May] is that the Chequers proposals are completely untenable with our [party] membership in the country and the electorate", Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative pro-Brexit lawmaker, told Reuters.

It comes as the new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab faces off with the EU's Michel Barnier for the first time today - as Brussels raises threats of no deal chaos.

The votes of four rebel Labour MPs helped Theresa May narrowly avoid a humiliating defeat over Brexit in the Commons on Tuesday night, seeing off an amendment that could have seen the United Kingdom remain in the customs union.

"We have changed tack once and we can change again".

The PM also rejected a call from SNP leader Ian Blackford to extend the Article 50 period, a move which would give the United Kingdom more time to negotiate a deal with the European Union before Brexit becomes official.

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Tuesday's legislation was technical in nature - focusing on converting trade deals between the European Union and third countries into bilateral deals with Britain, and was not originally meant to define new trade policy.

But he says he hopes more like-minded Conservative MPs will find the courage to resist supporters of a so-called "hard brexit" represented by the European Research Group.

"At absolutely no point because Brexit continues to mean Brexit", May replied.

In the past 18 months, said Johnson, "it is as though a fog of self-doubt has descended".

"Boris Johnson's after-dinner speaking fee must have plummeted faster than the pound after that dreary, self-important resignation speech", said opposition Labour MP David Lammy.

Mrs May batted away the charge, telling MPs she was focused on getting a "workable" Brexit solution.

"If we get distracted by individual amendments to individual pieces of legislation ... then I think we get dragged into an unnecessary debate that wastes a lot of time and energy", Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told state broadcaster RTE.

Meanwhile plans by the government to close parliament on Thursday for its summer recess rather than next week were abandoned.

May's vulnerability in parliament, where she lost her party's majority in an ill-judged election a year ago, was also laid bare on Monday when her decision to accept demands of hardline pro-Brexit lawmakers stirred a revolt among those who want to keep the closest possible ties in the EU.

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