Kara Fox and Lindsay Isaac (CNN)
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 favour 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 favour 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.
Separately on Tuesday, the Dutch government said British citizens living in the Netherlands will not have to leave in the event of “no deal.”
“In the case of a no deal, a national transition period applies from 29 March 2019 to 1 July 2020. In the transitional period, you retain your rights of residence, work and study in the Netherlands,” the Dutch Ministry of Justice said in a statement
There are more than 45,000 British people in the Netherlands and a recent survey by the Dutch government found that 89% of them are worried about the effects of Brexit on their situation.
“It’s understandable that Brexit is creating great uncertainty for these people,” said foreign minister Stef Blok in response to the findings. “So I keep on stressing that the draft withdrawal agreement offers the best solution for everyone.”