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May suffers defeat over no-deal Brexit tax powers

British lawmakers in the House of Commons, who oppose leaving the European Union without an accord, voted on Tuesday to curtail the government’s powers to amend laws that would allow smooth taxation after a no-deal Brexit.

The amendment to the finance bill was passed by 303 votes to 296 and would require the government to obtain parliamentary approval before changing tax laws.

“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,” opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party said.

May’s government downplayed the significance of the defeat, saying the vote would not change the fact that the UK had to leave the 28-member bloc in March.

“This amendment does not change the fact that the UK is leaving the EU on the 29 March, and it will not stop the government from collecting tax,” a spokesman said. “We will work with Parliament to make sure that the tax system works smoothly in all Brexit scenarios.”

The bill is set to undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords.

With less than three months until Britain leaves the EU, May is struggling to win approval for her Brexit deal.

The British government has indicated that it has plans in place to cope with the no-deal Brexit, a scenario that could become highly likely on Britain’s departure date from the EU on March 29, 2019, if the parliament rejects a draft Brexit deal signed between London and the bloc in November.

Earlier in the day, Germany warned British lawmakers that the EU would not reopen Brexit negotiations if they rejected the deal agreed in November.

During a meeting with his Irish counterpart in Dublin, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ruled out the possibility of extending Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to postpone Brexit deadline.

“Those who do so and who hope that is going to happen in order to have a better position for further negotiations run a great risk,” Mass said, calling on British politicians “to act responsibly” and unite behind the draft Brexit agreement.

Maas noted that the UK must leave the bloc on the scheduled date of March 29.

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