Blow for Theresa May as MPs show there is Commons majority against no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
8th January 2019

MPs have backed moves to limit the Treasury's ability to raise taxes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March.
Credit: 
PA Images

In a stunning result which showed that there is a majority in Parliament against leaving the EU without an agreement, MPs voted 303 to 296 in favour of an amendment to the Finance Bill.

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Fearing a slump in the UK economy, Chancellor Philip Hammond wanted the power to hike taxes to plug any resulting hole in the public finances.

But the amendment, which was moved by Labour's Yvette Cooper and backed by a string of Tory MPs, restricts the Treasury chief.

The result is yet another huge blow for the Prime Minister as she prepares for next week's vote on her Brexit deal, which most MPs expect her to lose.

Ms Cooper said: "I’ve laid this amendment because I am really worried that delays, drift or brinkmanship mean that there is now a serious risk we will end up crashing out of the EU with no deal in just 80 days’ time and I’m worried that we could come to the crunch and parliament wouldn’t have the powers to stop it happening.

"And I think we have a responsibility not to just stand by. I believe the Government should rule out no deal, but I think if it won’t then parliament must make sure that it has the powers to do so if it comes to the crunch."

Former Tory Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan said: "No-deal is a terrible deal and it would be a gross dereliction of the responsibility of members of this House to inflict a no-deal situation on our constituents."

Earlier, a spokesman for the Prime Minister attempted to play down the significance of the amendment, saying it was "not desirable but the effect of the amendment on no deal preparations would be inconvenient rather than anything more significant".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "This vote is 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. That is why we are taking every opportunity possible in Parliament to prevent no deal.

"Theresa May must now rule out no deal once and for all."

Meanwhile, the Government motion ahead of the start of a five-day debate on the Brexit deal tonight confirmed that Mrs May has so far failed to secure any concessions from the EU since she delayed the planned meaningful vote last month.

It shows that MPs will be debating the exact same wording as was the case in December, when the debate was stopped after three days because the Prime Minister knew she was on course for a major defeat.

Mrs May said she would seek assurances from Brussels that the Irish backstop, which would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU to avoid a hard border in Ireland, would only be a temporary measure.

Mr Corbyn said: "The Government has admitted that nothing has changed. Theresa May has recklessly run down the clock and secured no legal or other changes to the withdrawal agreement.

"The delay to the meaningful vote has achieved nothing beyond wasting a month. If the Government's deal is defeated then a general election is the best way forward to give a new government a mandate."