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Brexit bill battle goes on as MPs seek 157 changes

Fallon: 'We are not making threats' PICTURE: PA

THERESA May faces a battle over her key Brexit bill, after 157 amendments were tabled within hours of it passing its first parliamentary hurdle.

The bill cleared its second reading in the Commons by a margin of 36 early yesterday, after a mooted rebellion by Remain-backing Tories failed to materialise and seven Labour MPs rebelled to vote with the government.

But the raft of changes, many proposed by former Tory ministers, serves notice on the prime minister that the bill faces a rough ride through parliament.

It will repeal the 1972 act taking Britain into the European Economic Community and convert EU law into UK law.

Labour said the result was ‘deeply disappointing’ and the Lib Dems described it as ‘a dark day for the mother of parliaments’.

Meanwhile, the government published a paper on its hopes for continued close co-operation with the EU on defence and foreign affairs.

When asked whether a close relationship on security issues would depend on Britain getting a good trade deal, defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon told the BBC: ‘No, this isn’t blackmail, this isn’t a negotiating strategy. We want to fight terrorism together. It’s vital. We are not making threats.

‘We have made it clear since the Article 50 letter that this new partnership has to be both economic and security co-operation.’