British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered another setback to her Brexit withdrawal deal Tuesday as members of her own Conservative Party joined opposition Labour Party MPs in favor of a vote to curb the government’s spending powers if Britain fails to secure an agreement deal on its departure from the European Union.
Parliamentary members voted 303 to 296 in favor of an amendment to the Finance Bill that will restrict May from amending taxes to cope with the consequences of crashing out of the European Union without an agreement.
The measure isn’t expected to carry significant weight in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Robert Jenrick, a Conservative MP and the exchequer secretary to the Treasury said the Finance Bill amendment would only allow MPs power to make “minor technical changes.”
But the vote did carry symbolic weight: Parliamentarians are pushing back on a no-deal scenario.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the vote an “important step to prevent a no-deal Brexit,” saying it proved there is no parliamentary support for a no-deal Brexit.
Ian Murray, a Labour MP who supports People’s Vote, a group campaigning for a second referendum, said Parliament has “now asserted its authority and sovereignty and effectively exposed the threat of no deal as an empty one.”
“The threat of a no deal Brexit has [been] cynically used by the government for many months as part of their campaign to bully and intimidate Parliament into voting for a bad deal that would leave us worse off and offers less control,” Murray said in a statement on the People’s Vote website, adding that Tuesday’s events demonstrated that Parliament “can still act decisively.”
“What it now must do is hand the decision back to the people,” Murray said.
Parliament is due to vote on the divorce deal next week. If May ultimately fails to push the agreement through, the chances of the country crashing out of the European Union without a deal will soar.
Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union in 80 days.