Tory Rebel Clarke Says Defeating May Wouldn't Mean New Election

(Bloomberg) -- Conservative lawmaker Kenneth Clarke, a pro-European rebel, said if lawmakers defeat Prime Minister Theresa May on Brexit it shouldn’t prompt an election.

The risk of being held responsible for ushering Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn into office is often cited as a reason Conservative rebels should think twice before voting against May on Brexit. But Clarke said the legislation is clear.

Tory Rebel Clarke Says Defeating May Wouldn't Mean New Election

"There’s no reason whatever that it should provoke an election, we had all this argument last year,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "The House of Commons can pass an amendment, actually bring some sanity into the customs debate and Theresa will be pressed by the party to carry on, certainly with no election."

Amid Cabinet infighting, Clarke wants May to let Parliament decide on what kind of future relationship the U.K. should strike with the EU. There’s a majority in Parliament for the U.K. to stay in a customs union, he says, and he has tabled an amendment that would push the government to do that.

The Cabinet has been debating two options for the U.K.’s post-Brexit customs setup. One of them, a complex and untested system which could keep the U.K. closely tied to the EU, is known as the new customs partnership and is rejected by the Brexit-backers in Cabinet who want looser ties to the bloc.

Clarke said he "could be persuaded of the so-called partenship one." Whatever it’s called, it needs to make sure there’s the same tariff and no customs checks with the EU, he said.

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