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Theresa May backs customs fudge, to avoid humiliating defeat

May is facing pivotal Commons votes on Brexit this week. Photo: PA

Tory Remainer rebels have drafted a new amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill to “give the PM some breathing space”, according to one of them.

It would oblige the PM to report to parliament in due course on her efforts to achieve a customs “arrangement” with the EU rather than May’s rejected “customs union”.

It does not mean the rebels have surrendered in their campaign to pressurise her to negotiate membership of a Customs Union.

The vote on the customs union amendment happens on Wednesday. Credit: PA

It is simply that they feel it is too early, by a month or two, to precipitate a crisis, which is what defeating her on the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU would achieve (inter alia).

So it looks as though May will scrape a narrow victory when the vote on the customs union amendment happens on Wednesday.

But the fact that she is endorsing even the “arrangement” amendment shows the rebels are bossing her, not vice versa.

PS So the customs fudge means May now wins on that on Weds. But the Remainer rebels have not been bought off (yet) on the “meaningful vote” amendment. So if she has a humiliation, it would be on that vote on Tuesday. And it would be quite a humiliation.