Brexit: UK upper house votes to stay in EU single market | News | DW | 09.05.2018
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Brexit: UK upper house votes to stay in EU single market

The British government suffered the latest in a string of legislative defeats on Brexit when the House of Lords voted in favor of four amendments to a key Brexit blueprint — including remaining in the EU single market.

The unelected upper house of the UK parliament delivered a blow to UK Prime Minister Theresa May's government on Tuesday by voting in favor of four changes to the European Union [Withdrawal] Bill.

The changes the House of Lords approved to the Brexit blueprint include requiring the government to negotiate staying in the European Economic Area, the EU's single market. That amendment was approved 245 votes to 218.

Both May and Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, have said they support the UK leaving the single market after their country leaves the bloc.

The latest amendment is the 14th time in recent weeks that the government has lost  in the House of Lords on the draft legislation that will officially end the UK's EU membership.

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Potential rejection

After the House of Lords, the bill will return to the House of Commons where May's coalition government has a slight majority, and it is possible that the amendments will be rejected. Both houses have to come to an agreement on the final wording of the bill before it can become law.

Read more: Opinion: Brexit – a year wasted

This is the penultimate session for the bill and members in the parliament's upper chamber have already voted in favour of several other amendments including to pressure ministers to seek a form of customs union with the EU.

Brexit date and EU agencies

Earlier on Tuesday, the House of Lords voted 311 to 233 in favour of removing a proposed fixed time for the Brexit departure next year.

It also voted 298 to 227 in favor of an amendment that means Britain should keep up relations with EU agencies after leaving the bloc.

The government has proposed keeping membership of some EU agenciets involving medicine, chemicals and aviation while leaving others after Brexit.

The UK is likely to leave the EU police agency Europol and lose automatic membership to bodies like the European Maritime Safety Agency and the European Environment Agency.

'Not about stopping Brexit'

Angela Smith, the opposition Labour party's leader in the House of Lords, said the amendments were "not about stopping Brexit but the fine print of when and how the agreements are concluded."

Earlier on Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, an outspoken supporter of Britain's withdrawal from the EU, said the future customs plan backed by May would not fulfil many of the promises of Brexit.

"If you have the new customs partnership, you have a crazy system whereby you end up collecting the tariffs on behalf of the EU at the UK frontier," he told the Daily Mail.

"If the EU decides to impose punitive tariffs on something the UK wants to bring in cheaply there's nothing you can do," he added.

law,amp/se (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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