British Labour members of Parliament defied the orders of Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn to abstain on a vote on the Government's EU Withdrawal Bill December 21, voting in favor maintaining the UK EU Customs Union membership.
In all, 64 MPs rebelled — citing the possibility of a hard border going up between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Labour MP Chris Leslie put forward an amendment to the bill calling for Britain to be able to remain in the Customs Union after it leaves the European Union in March 2019.
Spoke passionately for this amendment tonight and voted for it. Vital to keep the Customs Union and single market on the table especially given the news today that could harm 10,000s of financial services jobs in Edinburgh. https://t.co/z7lsuSSSur— Ian Murray (@IanMurrayMP) December 20, 2017
The Withdrawal Bill, which will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the UK was ultimately passed successfully after the Government agreed to concede that the exit date of March 19 2017 could be pushed back by a Parliamentary vote if the remaining 27 EU states agreed.
The Bill was initially defeated December 14 when rebellious Conservative MPs voted the bill down, demanding that Parliament be granted a vote on any final agreement between London and Brussels and inflicting a damaging setback on the Prime Minister the day before she was to commence trade negotiations in Brussels.
Mr. Corbyn has previously expressed doubts about the benefits of the UK remaining in the Customs Union, claiming to the BBC in July 2017 that the terms of membership limit the degree to which governments can intervene in the economy as well as promote the privatization of state-owned assets.
Since taking over the leadership of the Labour Party in September 2015, Jeremy Corbyn has faced consistent opposition from a majority of the Party's MPs and has had to rely on the support of the rank and file membership to survive repeated attempts to remove him from his post.
The most recent move on his leadership came after the June 2016 Brexit referendum, when leading pro-Remain Labour figures partially blamed what they saw as his lack of enthusiasm for the Remain campaign for successful Leave result.