The UK House of Commons last night passed the “NC17” amendment to the government’s key Brexit legislation on medicines, essentially binding the UK to seek to stay within the European regulatory structures for pharmaceuticals. The amendment was brought by Dr Phillip Lee, the Conservative MP who quit as Justice Minister last month to be free to vote against the government on Brexit issues. The government voted against this amendment but 12 Conservative pro-EU MPs joined with the opposition party to successfully amend the government’s draft legislation. It was a narrow vote, marking a defeat for the government, which lost by 301 votes to 305.

The government avoided defeat yesterday on a broader amendment to the Brexit legislation that would have bound it to pursuing a customs union with the EU, just winning the vote with 307 votes to 301. The loss of the medicines amendment vote appears to be greeted with some surprise at Westminster.