Brexit: Labour promises Lords scrap over EU Withdrawal Bill

UK government loses key votes on Brexit bill

UK government loses key votes on Brexit bill

The bill, which was approved by MPs previous year, has reached report stage in the House of Lords - where the government does not have a majority and is vulnerable to defeat if Labour, Lib Dems and rebel Tories join forces with crossbenchers.

The spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that Parliament has voted for this amendment".

May's government has already postponed votes on a trade bill and a taxation bill after lawmakers attempted to force through amendments that would instruct ministers to try to stay in a customs union with the EU.

The House of Lords is now debating Prime Minister Theresa May's European Union withdrawal bill, the legislation needed to end Britain's membership of the bloc after more than 40 years.

The House of Lords resumes debate on the government's flagship Brexit legislation on Wednesday with an alliance of Labour, Liberal Democrat and crossbench peers - along with Tory rebels - eager to soften the United Kingdom prime minister's approach.

"A failure to do so however, will amount to kicking the can down what could be a very rocky road".

Despite the amendment's limited ability to change the Government's policy, it is likely to reignite the debate over whether Britain is better off inside a newly-negotiated customs union or free to forge its own trade deals.

But the House of Lords decision now puts pressure on Tory Remainer MPs - who have the numbers to overturn May's wafer-thin majority - when the bill returns to the Commons next month.

The government has lost the first test of strength in the Lords, with a bigger margin of peers approving an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

After losing the Conservative Party's majority in an ill-judged election last June, May relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party to pass legislation.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: "The passing of this cross-party amendment is an important step forward".

An official told Bloomberg that the government wasn't overly concerned because it interprets that wording as only a requirement to make a statement about its efforts to discuss staying in a customs union. May's trade minister, Liam Fox, and others see such a deal as anathema if it prevents London negotiating its own trade deals.

But opposition peers hope that if the government sustains a hefty defeat, it could strengthen the hand of pro-customs union Conservative MPs, who have said they plan to force the issue in the Commons.

Brexit minister Lord Callanan said the government meant to overturn the measures at a later stage.

Labour's Baroness Hayter, who joined former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Patten and Lord Kerr in tabling the amendment, had pointed out in the debate that Brexit Secretary David Davis had made Customs Union membership a key element of the general election past year. But he added: "The PM. has been very clear that the British people voted to leave the European Union and expects us to sign trade deals around the world".

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