MPs have backed a vote designed to slow preparations for a no-deal Brexit by defeating the government in the House of Commons. It is the first time in 41 years that the Government has lost a vote on a Finance Bill.
MPs voted by 303 to 296 in favour of an amendment to the finance bill tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper to curb some of the government’s tax administration powers in the event of no deal without explicit authorisation for parliament.
The setback for the government came after a day in which senior ministers spoke out about the risks of exiting the EU without any form of withdrawal agreement. It marks the latest in a series of Commons setbacks for the government in the run-up to next week’s crunch vote on Ms May’s Brexit deal. MPs are expected to reject the proposed withdrawal agreement on 15th January, prompting fears of Britain crashing out of the EU without an agreement.
Sir Oliver Letwin rebelled to back Cooper’s amendment, said: “The majority tonight that is expressed in this house will sustain itself. We will not allow a no-deal exit to occur at the end of March.”
20 Tories rebelled against the government, including former defence secretary Michael Fallon and former education secretary Justine Greening.
After the vote, Jeremy Corbyn said the result was an “important step to prevent a no deal Brexit. It shows that there is no majority in Parliament, the Cabinet or the country for crashing out of the EU without an agreement.
Theresa May must now rule out no deal once and for all”.
But Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith said the result doesn’t change the course of Brexit.
“It doesn’t change anything… it’s really a token” he told Sky News.
Treasury minister Robert Jenrick said the “simple truth” remained that the UK would leave the EU on 29 March.
Indeed, a government spokesman confirmed that the defeat does not change the fact that the UK will leave the EU on the 29th March.
A Government spokesman says the defeat on the amendment does not change the fact the UK is leaving the EU on 29 March and it will work with Parliament to ensure the tax system works smoothly in all Brexit scenarios
— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) January 8, 2019