B Brexit

Finance bill defeat sets back Brexit preparations

In a defeat for the Conservatives, an amendment was added to the Finance Bill limiting tax powers if a no-deal Brexit occurs, with a vote of 303 to 296.

The vote saw the defection of 20 conservative MPs to get the amendment passed, including former cabinet ministers Ken Clarke, Michael Fallon, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve,  and Oliver Letwin. On the flip side, three Labour MPs, Ronnie Campbell, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer, sided with the government.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that passing the amendment would be 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."

The bill was brought forward by Labour's Yvette Cooper, who said MPs "have a responsibility not to just stand by." and that she is "really worried that delays, drift, and 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."

Business Secretary Greg Clark told MPs about the importance of avoiding a no-deal Brexit "It is essential that we should be able to continue to trade. It's why I've always been clear, representing very strongly the views of small business and large business, that no-deal should not be contemplated." Clark has also become the first in May's government to signal is decision to resign should a no-deal Brexit be reached. 

Theresa May has made clear that she will not attempt to push back Brexit or revoke the two-year Article 50 process designed to take Britain out of the EU. A spokesman for the prime minister told journalists Tuesday morning "We will not be extending Article 50." A spokesman for Downing street referred to the amendment vote as "an inconvenience rather than anything more significant." This comes after senior members of the government have urged May to rule out a no-deal Brexit, and after she met with some of the over 200 MPs who have signed a letter urging the prime minister to avoid a no-deal Brexit.