British PM Theresa May loses vote on no-deal Brexit powers

The UK Parliament has narrowly approved a bill that would limit government tax-raising powers in the event of a no-deal scenario. The government said it would make no difference to Britain leaving the EU on March 29.

Lawmakers in the British House of Commons have voted 303-296 to back a Finance Bill amendment that would prohibit government spending on no-deal measures that Parliament does not authorize.

The result is a setback for Prime Minister Theresa May's government, which would have its tax-raising powers trimmed in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a dealon March 29. Twenty members of May's Conservative Party are understood to have voted against the government. 

"This vote is an important step to prevent a no-deal Brexit," said Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party. "It shows that there is no majority in Parliament, the Cabinet or the country for crashing out of the EU without an agreement."

The government has played down the importance of the defeat, saying it would address taxation issues as the need arose.

"This amendment does not change the fact that the UK is leaving the EU on ...29 March, and it will not stop the government from collecting tax," a government spokesman said.

"We will work with Parliament to make sure that the tax system works smoothly in all Brexit scenarios."

Read more: Brexiteers in Ramsgate: 'Just get on with it'

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DW News | 07.01.2019

Brexit: Britons prepare for the worst

May struggles to find support

May is seeking parliamentary approval for her EU withdrawal deal in a vote slated for January 15. However, she is struggling to win over lawmakers from both her own party and the opposition.

May also faces resistance from the tiny Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose 10 seats her minority government relies upon for a working parliamentary majority.

The prime minister has said she is seeking further assurances from Brussels over the most controversial element of the deal — the so-called Northern Irish "backstop." However, the EU has said it is not prepared to renegotiate the withdrawal deal.

The backstop guarantees against the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event the UK diverges from the EU on regulatory standards — a stipulation insisted upon by EU-member state Ireland. Such a guarantee would essentially place the UK and EU in a joint customs territory that London would be unable to unilaterally leave without allowing standards between Britain and Northern Ireland to diverge.

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rc/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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