The government was forced to postpone the Financial Services Bill today after an official calculation showed its working majority has officially been cut to zero.
Ministers took the decision to postpone the bill just hours before before it was due to be debated and voted on by MPs.
The legislation, which is crucial to ensuring major financial institutions can continue to operate in the event of a no-deal Brexit, will now have to be re-scheduled for debate in the Commons before 29 March, when the UK is supposed to leave the EU.
ITV’s politics editor Robert Peston tweeted parliament’s official assessment of the composition of the House of Commons shortly after the shock announcement.
It showed that following defections to the Independent Group, the government’s working majority has been cut to zero, which he described as “unsustainable”.
Attached is parliament’s official calculation of the government’s working majority. Following those defections, it’s ZERO. Which is UNSUSTAINABLE, as the extraordinary decision to pull finance bill vote today shows. And is why general-election speculation will not die pic.twitter.com/CnRKsidYGm
— Robert Peston (@Peston) March 4, 2019
Up to 22 Conservative MPs were set to defy the Government to vote for a cross-party amendment aimed at forcing new tax transparency rules on British Overseas Territories, Politics Home reported today.
Speaking to the publication Shadow Treasury Minister Jonathan Reynolds said the Government’s decision to shelve the vote was “risible”.
He said: “The Government is just in chaos. They have pulled this Bill today because they knew they would be defeated.
“They had told us this was a key piece of legislation necessary in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and that it was essential to pass it quickly. However, when faced with amendments calling for no ‘race to the bottom’ in financial regulation post-Brexit and in greater transparency in the crown dependencies, they have run away. These are both things the Government says it is in favour of. It is risible.”