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Tonight’s votes on the Trade Bill produced two close battles, including an unexpected defeat for the Government in a relatively small matter, followed by a victory in a crucial vote that people had expected to be the source of much more trouble.

First came New Clause 17 – tabled by Phillip Lee, who resigned last month, the clause sought to make participation in EU medicines regulation a negotiating objective of the Government. Against expectations, the New Clause was carried by a margin of 305-301 votes. A dozen Conservative MPs rebelled against the Government:

Heidi Allen

Ken Clarke

Jonathan Djanogly

Dominic Grieve

Stephen Hammond

Phillip Lee

Jeremy Lefroy

Nicky Morgan

Bob Neill

Antoinette Sandbach

Anna Soubry

Sarah Wollaston

Those 12 votes were more than enough to get Lee’s initiative over the line, aided by the absence of any Labour Leavers voting with the Government.

That unpleasant surprise sent the Conservative Whips on edge, as the very next division was on a topic of existential importance for the Prime Minister: Stephen Hammond’s New Clause 18, which would have required the Government to enter the UK into a Customs Union with the EU after Brexit.

The preceding defeat on NC17 suggested they were in trouble, so there was a more welcome air of surprise when NC18 was defeated by 307-301. A slightly different dozen Conservatives rebelled this time:

Heidi Allen

Guto Bebb

Ken Clarke

Jonathan Djanogly

Dominic Grieve

Stephen Hammond

Phillip Lee

Nicky Morgan

Bob Neill

Antoinette Sandbach

Anna Soubry

Sarah Wollaston

The presence of four Labour MPs voting to reject the proposal, however, made all the difference. Those who stepped in to save the bacon were:

Frank Field

Kate Hoey

John Mann

Graham Stringer

The suspended Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins also voted with the Government on NC18, having voted for NC17 previously.

The House went on to approve the Bill at Third Reading by 317-386 votes.

182 comments for: Stephen Hammond’s loss and Phillip Lee’s win. Full list of Conservatives who rebelled on Trade Bill amendments.

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