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Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

United Kingdom lawmakers vote to strike Brexit date from bill

United Kingdom lawmakers vote to strike Brexit date from bill

Peers pushed through a cross-party amendment to the European Union withdrawal Bill, which proposed to remove the Brexit date of 29 March 2019 from the legislation by 311 votes to 233 - a difference of 78.

Later in the evening, despite an abstention by Labour frontbenchers, an amendment seeking continued United Kingdom participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) was carried by 245 votes to 218.

The defeat was also damaging for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after members of his party in the upper house defied orders to abstain from the vote and instead backed a cross-party alliance in support of the amendment.

Writing in The Sun On Sunday, she said she had an "absolute determination to make a success of Brexit, by leaving the single market and customs union and building a new relationship with EU partners that takes back control of our borders, our laws and our money".

A further defeat came when peers voted in favour of amendment calling for increased scrutiny of secondary legislation made by ministers, backing it by 225 votes to 194, majority 31.

This month, the chamber voted for an amendment to the Brexit bill that sought to keep Britain in the customs union.

A senior Labour member of the House of Lords has offered a wager that the United Kingdom will not be leaving the European Union on the designated exit day.

Government defeats in the House of Lords 2012 to date
United Kingdom lawmakers vote to strike Brexit date from bill

But Labour's Lord Alli, who moved the successful amendment, said continued EEA membership was vital to ensure the future profitability of the UK's export business.

"In negotiations you have to be flexible and willing to change direction if it is not in your best interests, and putting this date down as a bench-mark was never in the best interests of the United Kingdom".

Government ministers have accused peers of attempting to "thwart" the country's departure from the EU.

Baroness Smith said the amendments were not seeking to stop Brexit, but address the "fine print of when and how the agreements are concluded".

Not every Labour peer was behind the legislation change, as former minister Andrew Adonis described the amendment as "useless".

"I hope that the Labour front bench will support United Kingdom membership of the single market through the EEA, which is what the overwhelming majority of our members and voters want", Umunna added. In a Twitter post, Labour MP Chris Lesley called on party members to "to let [Shadow Brexit Secretary] Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn know that we can not afford for Labour frontbench to abstain again when it comes to Commons".

The aim was to revert to the original wording of the Bill, he said.

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