Brexiteers Seek Vote Showdown With May Over EU Divorce Plan

(Bloomberg) -- Jacob Rees-Mogg and other Brexit hard-liners in the U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party are seeking a showdown with Theresa May over her plans for Britain’s divorce from the European Union.

Four amendments were attached to a taxation bill due to be debated next week, which effectively call for May to abandon the Brexit proposal agreed with her Cabinet on Friday. Critics of her plan say it would bind Britain to European Union rules and prevent it from signing trade deals with countries outside the bloc.

Proposed changes to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill include adding clauses to say the U.K. can’t enter into arrangements which would see Northern Ireland in a separate customs territory from the rest of the country, Rees-Mogg said. They would also make it illegal for Britain to collect duties on behalf of other governments -- as May is proposing -- unless there are reciprocal arrangements for those nations to do likewise.

Another proposed change would make it compulsory for the government to gain parliamentary approval if it enters into a customs union with the EU, according to Rees-Mogg. A fourth amendment seeks to delete a portion of the bill dealing with tax arrangements for trade within a customs union.

The four amendments have different signatories, including former cabinet members John Redwood, Priti Patel and Owen Paterson.

Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group doesn’t reveal membership numbers, but it has previously managed to organize letters with more than 60 signatures. May lacks a parliamentary majority, and needs to get lawmakers’ approval for whatever final deal she agrees with the EU later this year.

While the amendments aren’t likely to pass -- few members of the opposition Labour Party or other smaller parties are likely to support them -- even 30 votes from members of her own party would be of considerable concern to the prime minister.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.