UK PM May sidesteps questions on publication of Brexit strategy

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UK PM May sidesteps questions on publication of Brexit strategy

Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet erupted into open warfare again as Brexiteer ministers led by David Davis rejected a draft "backstop" proposal to keep the Irish border open because it fails to set a date for the United Kingdom to finally leave the European Union customs regime.

The Labour leader said key documents, including the blueprint for future European Union relations, had been "delayed" while customs proposals had been "cancelled".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn mocked the Tories' handling of Brexit during PMQs, likening it to their stewardship of the "shambolic privatized railways", saying it's had more delays and more cancellations than Northern Rail.

"They know as well as I do that their own colleagues in the party are indicating they are not prepared to vote for this".

Mr Corbyn said: "We are confident we can build a new relationship with the EU".

"But what she (Mrs May) said today is exactly right that the White Paper will be published when it's ready, it's up to quality, and is exactly what we need to say".

Asked if Mr Davis had threatened to resign over the backstop issue, the Prime Minister's official spokesman replied: "Not that I'm aware of, no".

The return of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to the Commons after a series of bruising defeats in the Lords poses another headache for the Prime Minister.

Who supports it? Only a relatively small number of committed eurosceptics in Parliament regard this as their preferred result, but many MPs - particularly on the Tory benches - believe the Government should be preparing for the possibility of a "no deal" exit in order to strengthen the UK's hand in negotiations with Brussels.

What does it say about the Prime Minister and the government's stance on Brexit when she always loses the exchanges?

Rebel MPs from both sides of the House of Commons are set to push for a Norway-style Brexit agreement which would keep the United Kingdom in the single market.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said EEA membership was too divisive in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

They think that Theresa May secretly wants to stay in the customs union and the single market.

"So, if we are serious about "protecting full access to the internal market of the EU" and ensuring "no new impediments to trade", logic dictates Labour MPs should be whipped to support the cross-party EEA amendment sent to us by the House of Lords".

With Mrs May lacking a majority in the Commons, she is vulnerable to any Tory revolt and at least 12 Conservatives have signalled their support for a future in the EEA.

"Every single MP needs to make their own decision about this in the national interest and in the interest of their own constituents", he said.

European Union negotiators have repeatedly made it clear there can be no cherry picking or division of the four freedoms of the single market, including free movement of people.

Chuka Umunna - a supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign - said: "All the way through the passage of this Bill, the only amendments which have commanded support on both sides of the House and passed are cross-party backbench ones".

Mrs May said the scheme demonstrated her government's "commitment to delivering the jobs and major infrastructure".

"That has got to change, we can not allow this culture of fear that has developed to continue any longer".

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