The Government narrowly survived a series of votes on the Customs Bill last night, winning two of them by a margin of only three votes. This was after the Government had backed down and accepted four amendments to the bill tabled by the pro-Brexit European Research Group. These were intended to harden the UK’s negotiating position and drag it back more towards the vision of Brexit Mrs May outlined in her Lancaster House speech.
While the Prime Minister insisted the amendments were “consistent” with the Government’s recently tabled white paper, this analysis is not shared by many MPs or commentators on either side of the debate.
It would seem two of the four cut across key provisions of the white paper, while another limits its scope for manoeuvre as regards the Irish border backstop, without which there can be no withdrawal agreement and no transition period. The cumulative effect of the amendments and of the politics around them is to increase the likelihood of a no deal outcome.