May just about survives pro-EU Tories’ rebellion; threatens with poll
London, July 18: The UK saw four elections - direct and indirect - in the last four years. Will there be a fifth soon? It might not be ruled out since British Prime Minister Theresa May has threatened the rebel law-makers in her Conservative Party with holding a general election this summer if they decided to defeat her Brexit plans on customs, The Times reported.
PM May's tumultuous ride ahead of the formal Brexit next March continued as she narrowly survived a defeat in the parliament to the pro-European Union (EU) lawmakers from her own Conservative Party.
While the parliament saw 307 votes against an amendment to trade legislation that would have demanded the government to try to negotiate a customs union agreement with the EU if it had failed by next January to negotiate a smooth trade deal with the grouping. Three hundred and one votes went to its favour.
Tory whips issued warning to the pro-EU law-makers led by former ministers Stephen Hammond and Nicky Morgan moments before the crucial voting on Tuesday (July 17) night that would have seen Britain remaining outside the customs union, the Times report added.
The outcome of the voting showed that May's position in the party was far from a strong one and she perhaps understood it too, by counter-warning with calling an election.
Anna Soubry, a rebel MP, said on Wednesday, July 18, that May was not in charge any more and that controversial Eurosceptic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was "running the country", a Financial Times report said.
On Monday, July 16, Rees-Mogg forced May to accept four amendments to the customs bill aimed at toughening up her "soft Brexit" approach she agreed with her cabinet at Chequers earlier this month, the report added.
Eight months ahead of the formal Brexit, the May government has been at the centre of a storm with her party witnessing pulls in several directions. While there were pro- and anti-Brexit stances earlier, one can even witness voices for 'soft' and 'hard' Brexit now, leaving the ruling party in a state of confusion.
Britain has seen four elections in the last four years - the Scottish independence referendum in 2014; the UK election in 2015; the Brexit referendum in 2016 and a snap election in 2017.