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May to Favor Deal Keeping Britain in Single Market, Customs Union - Journo

© AP Photo / Virginia MayoBritish Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a media conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017.
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a media conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. - Sputnik International
On Wednesday, the UK’s House of Commons rejected an amendment to the Brexit bill stipulating London remain in the EU’s customs union, after Theresa May had made concessions to pro-EU Conservatives; however, Tory rebels have warned they will mutiny if Prime Minister May fails to fulfill the promises she gave before the vote.

Sputnik has spoken with David Lindsay, political commentator, and journalist about the latest developments.

Sputnik: Theresa May has avoided a humiliating defeat over the Brexit bill after Conservative rebels accepted significant concessions from the government on the “meaningful vote”… How significant is this for the prime minister and Brexit negotiations? Will she stick to her promises?

David Lindsay: Well, that depends what you think the promises are. The things she is claiming to have said really cannot possibly be the whole story. These are people who were expected to vote against the government last night, within the Conservative Party, who are extremely pro-EU, who would go to the stake rather than accept withdrawal from the customs union and the single market; demanding a second referendum in which an option on the ballot paper would be to remain in the EU. They did not suddenly change their minds based purely on a promise that there would be a parliamentary statement of which they would be able to ask questions — that would have happened anyway. They [the Tory rebels] have been promised far more than that behind-the-scenes. There is no way that cannot be the case if they were to change their votes last night.

A pro-remain supporter of Britain staying in the EU, holds up an EU flag whilst taking part in an anti-Brexit protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London (File) - Sputnik International
UK Parliament Rejects Plan to Negotiate Brexit to Stay in EU Economic Area
Now, will the prime minister stick to it? Yes – probably, in fact I fully expect she will. Because she herself is of that mind. She is going to come back with a deal, that remains in the single market and the customs union. That will be one option on the ballot paper of the second referendum; the other will be to remain in the European Union and that will be presented as the deal. That will satisfy the people whom she satisfied last night and will satisfy herself. If you accept what must be the real promises that she made and not the superficial ones that we’re being told, then she is certainly going to stick to it.   

Sputnik: On top of the debates going on in Parliament, Michel Barnier, has stated that the UK can continue frictionless trade if Britain stays within the EEA… Is this likely do you think following on from the ongoing debates in Parliament?

Britain's Secretary of State for Education, Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan - Sputnik International
Tory Remainers Threaten Open Rebellion if May Reneges on Brexit Vote Pledge
David Lindsay: I’d say it was practically certain as the option, that or something very like it that certainly entails remaining in the customs union and the single market, is practically certain to be the option that Theresa May brings back from negotiations with the European Union. She herself wants that to happen and she wouldn’t settle for anything less and it’s quite clear that there enough people in her party to insist upon that, but she had to as good as promise it to them last night. That is going to be the option she brings back, she is going to say that will be put to a second referendum in which the second option will be to stay in the European Union altogether, there will be no third way as Tony Blair used to say, and that will be that. I would say this is effectively guaranteed.

READ MORE: UK 'Spent the Last 3 Years Attempting to Find a Way to Stay in the EU' – Analyst

Sputnik: Whilst the majority of the mainstream media has been looking at talks in the Commons and responses made by Brussels, the Scottish government yesterday said says its wants changes to the devolution settlement following the failure to reach a deal over the EU Withdrawal Bill. Will these concessions be delivered to Scotland and if so what effect will this have on Brexit?

David Lindsay: It will not be delivered to Scotland, in terms of what I think is going to happen. Those concessions will not be delivered because the British government, any British government, simply does not accept that relations with the EU are any business of the Scottish government or the Scottish parliament, so that is not going to happen. What effect will that have on Brexit? Very little, however the effect that will have in Scotland will be very different if there were to be a second referendum that I don’t think would pass; but this will greatly increase the pressure on a second referendum for independence.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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