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British PM beats further challenges to critical Brexit bill

14 Jun 2018, 02:16 ( 14 Jun, 2018) | updated: 14 Jun 2018, 03:13 ( 14 Jun, 2018)

DF-Xinhua Report
British Prime Minister Theresa May. File Photo Xinhua.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's government successfully fought off three attempts Wednesday to tie Britain's hands to a customs union or the European Economic Area (EEA) as part of its Brexit deal.

   Voting continued in the House of Commons for a second day on May's crucial Brexit Withdrawal Bill,  one of the most important pieces of British legislation for over 70 years.

   In another day of political drama at Westminster, five Labour MPs, one of them a shadow cabinet minister, resigned from their party roles so they could defy their party managers and vote against a Labour party measure.  It means they stay as MPs but return to the back benches,

   The House of Commons rejected by a comfortable 201 margin, an amendment to the Brexit Bill by the House of Lords. If it had been passed it would have obliged the government to prioritise staying in the European Economic Area, known as the Norway option.

   The government also beat off an amendment by the main opposition Labour Party. Labour wanted a negotiating objective to ensure Britain had full access to the internal market of the European Union.

   In the third major vote of the night, MPs voted on an amendment from the House of Lords aimed at preventing the repeal of the 1972 British Act of Parliament that took Britain into what was then known as the European Common Market. The move called for the repeal to be prevented unless May's government laid out plans to negotiate a continued customs union after Brexit.

   Earlier in the House of Commons the weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions descended into chaos when the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) was ordered by Speaker John Bercow to leave the chamber after a row erupted.

   The SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford was ejected for repeatedly refusing to sit down after Bercow, declined his request for an immediate vote on holding a new debate on the Brexit issue.

   Blackford complained that not enough time had been allowed to discuss the impact of Brexit on Scotland's devolved government during Tuesday's marathon debate on the Brexit Withdrawal Bill. Blackford left followed by the entire contingent of SNP members of parliament (MPs) who marched in protest.

   It meant Blackford was banned from re-entering the chamber for the rest of the day, missing out on the second day of debate on the Brexit bill.

   Blackford later won backing from the SNP leader Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. She said on her social media site that Blackford and the party's MPs were being treated with contempt by Westminster and it needed to be highlighted.