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Newbury MP rebels over Finance Bill amendment on Brexit

Richard Benyon is one of 20 Tory MPs to vote against the Government which would limit leeway for tax changes

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas


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Richard Benyon - Conservative

RICHARD Benyon voted against his own party for the second time in as many months on Tuesday night in a bid to avoid a no-deal Brexit scenario in March.

The Newbury MP was one of 20 Conservatives to rebel against the Government as he backed an amendment to the Finance Bill, which would limit the Treasury’s control over changes to tax laws following a no-deal, unless authorised by MPs.

The defeat would essentially restrict the Prime Minister’s powers if Britain leaves without an agreement in place.

But Mr Benyon claimed it was a “small insurance measure” in the event Britain walks away on Friday, March 29, without a deal.

The cross-party amendment, put forward by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, was passed by 303 votes to 296 – making Theresa May the first prime minister in 41 years to lose a vote on a government finance bill.

Mr Benyon was one of several Conservative loyalists to defy party whips in voting against the amendment, along with former cabinet ministers Michael Fallon, Justine Greening, Ken Clarke, Sir Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve.

It is the second time Mr Benyon has rebelled against his party on a key Brexit vote in recent weeks, having backed an amendment put forward by Conservative’s Dominic Grieve in December which would hand power to MPs if Mrs May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement is rejected.

The Prime Minister cancelled the original Brexit vote on December 11 after opposition from both sides of the political divide signalled an ominous defeat.

Mr Benyon, who has consistently pledged his support to Mrs May throughout months of Brexit negotiations in search of a “pragmatic” Brexit, said: “It is my intention to support the Government in the meaningful vote and I’m encouraging as many of my colleagues to do the same.

“I have supported the Government on a whole range of Brexit legislation but one thing I’m absolutely clear on is that no-deal would potentially be a very bad result for many people and businesses that I represent.

“What I was seeking to do yesterday [Tuesday] was to create a parliamentary safeguard to require the Government to come back to Parliament if they need more resources to implement a no-deal Brexit.  

“It was a small insurance measure.

“If we don’t agree the Government’s withdrawal agreement, we then risk moving into a no-deal scenario.”

MPs reconvened yesterday (Wednesday) for another five days of Brexit debate before voting on Mrs May’s deal on Tuesday next week.

But before heading into discussion, a cross-party group of MPs proposed an amendment which would cut down the amount of time Mrs May has to find a solution in the event her deal is voted down.

At present, the Government has 21 days to make the statement.

Speaking to the NWN on Wednesday about what way he would vote on the Grieve amendment, the Newbury MP said: “No, I’m opposed to that, I’m not going to be supporting that.

“I think the Government needs as much time as possible to be able to find some changes and to bring it forward to Parliament for further votes.”

Prior to voting on Wednesday, Mr Benyon referenced a popular song by American rock band Greenday, in a tweet in which he referred to Brexit as a 's***fest' on social media.

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Article comments

  • Kayaker Pete

    09/01/2019 - 15:03

    Supports the manifesto he stood on for as long as it suits him, then shows his true colours. Goodbye Benyon, you have lost my vote. Say one thing - do another politicians often have trouble getting re-elected.


    • NoisyNortherner

      10/01/2019 - 08:08

      Unless they or the party they are standing for have dramatically cocked up, it's often easier for an incumbent to win re-election actually.


  • NoisyNortherner

    09/01/2019 - 13:01

    I still don't like him, but at least he's making it harder for the government to bully parliament into silent compliance.


  • Tracer

    09/01/2019 - 11:11

    Good. People wanted Parliament to have complete power. The Prime Minister shouldn't be able to bypass that.