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Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 18:02
After reprieve, May faces Brexit battle in parliament on trade
By Reuters
Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 18:02 By Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May sit in the Royal Box on Centre Court during the men's singles final match between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday July 15, 2018. (NEIL HALL / Pool / AP)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a battle over trade in parliament on Tuesday, with pro-EU lawmakers hoping to influence her plans to leave the European Union a day after she bowed to demands from Brexit campaigners. 

Tuesday's vote will be on the trade bill, which is focused on converting trade deals between the EU and third countries into bilateral deals with Britain

May's vulnerability in parliament, where she lost her Conservative Party's majority in an ill-judged election last year, was laid bare on Monday, when her decision to accept the demands of pro-Brexit lawmakers stirred a rebellion among those who want to keep the closest possible ties in the EU. 

On two of Monday's votes her majority was cut to three, suggesting that the leader will struggle to get Brexit legislation through a deeply divided parliament, which could possibly threaten the approval of any Brexit deal with the EU. 

READ MORE: British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

May has vowed to stick to her plan to negotiate the closest possible trade ties with the EU, saying her strategy is the only one that can meet the government's aims for Brexit, the biggest shift in Britain's foreign and trade policy for decades. 

But it has pleased very few, deepening those divisions in her Conservative Party that have so far hampered progress in talks with the EU, and triggering a bitter war of words between its Brexit-supporting and pro-EU factions. 

"We can't please everybody. We have to have a compromise position that enables the country to get an agreement with the European Union," trade minister Liam Fox told BBC radio. 

"It's up now to the EU 27 to determine what sort of relationship they have with us." 

Tuesday's vote will be on the trade bill, which is focused on converting trade deals between the EU and third countries into bilateral deals with Britain. It is a technical bill and was not originally intended to define new trade policy. 

ALSO READ: British-US trade deal possible after Brexit, say May and Trump

Pro-EU lawmakers have tabled a change to the wording of the bill to try to force the government to pursue a customs union with the EU if ministers fail to agree an agreement which establishes "a frictionless free trade area for goods". 

Parliament will also vote on a government attempt to bring forward its summer break to Thursday from next week, which the government says is logical because there is very little parliamentary business in the remaining days. 

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