Muslim Times(Web Desk) – British Prime Minister Theresa May has been forced to allow MPs to have a vote on remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) following multiple fresh defeats in the House of Lords.
On Tuesday, the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber which scrutinizes legislation, voted to try and force the UK to commit to retaining close relations with the EU single market after Brexit.
Labour peers voted on several more amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, the piece of legislation which will formalize Brexit, blowing apart the strategy of both May and Jeremy Corbyn.
One of those amendments requires that the government begin negotiating future UK membership of the EEA, the so-called “Norway option.”
Lord Alli told the House that it was vitally important to remain a member of the EEA to ensure the future profitability of the UK’s export business and livelihoods of many thousands of people.
“It is the EEA that deals with services, services like retail, tourism, transport, communications, financial services and aerospace where we have a £14bn trade surplus,” he said.
“The customs union only will benefit our European neighbours in their imports and without an EEA equivalent it will damage our profitable export business.”
The government lost the vote by 245 to 218 while 83 Labour peers rebelled against Corbyn’s demand that they should abstain, joining forces with 17 Conservative rebel peers, 84 Lib Dems, and others.
“The time for constructive ambiguity is over – our members and our voters will be delighted with this clear signal that we will not go along with this Tory Brexit,” said Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP who co-chairs a pro-European Commons committee with the Conservative Anna Soubry.
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called May’s proposal for a customs partnership “crazy” in an interview with the Daily Mail, dealing a major blow to the government’s strategy of a cautious balance between leave and remain.
Johnson was severely criticized by people from within Tory ranks all day and in the Lords debate. Former Tory MP Patrick Cormack asked: “What sort of example are we being given by a cabinet that is rent asunder by the foreign secretary, the second most important cabinet minister, rubbishing the prime minister in the columns of the Daily Mail?”
The UK is currently due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019 after nearly 52 percent of Britons opted to leave the bloc during the EU referendum in June of 2016.
The United Kingdom formally triggered the Brexit process on March 29 and divorce negotiations officially began on June 19.