Published On: Fri, Aug 16th, 2019

Brexit news: ‘Good chance’ anti-no deal MPs will get ‘opportunity’ | Politics | News

has repeatedly warned the UK will leave the European Union with or without a deal by the end of October this year. The Prime Minister has demanded changes to the backstop mechanism within the withdrawal agreement from the EU before the UK returns to talks, but so far the Brussels bloc has refused to budge. Last week, pro-EU MPs suggested a no deal could still be blocked, despite members of the Prime Minister’s team hinting Remainers had left it too late to block a no deal exit.

Speaking to, Dr Jack Simson Caird, a Senior Research Fellow in Parliaments and the Rule of Law suggested the Speaker may still manage to grant pro-EU MPs an “opportunity” to block no deal, but there was no guarantee they could stop Mr Johnson.

He said: “If I was betting, I would say that they would find some sort of opportunity, for example, even if Boris decides that he doesn’t want to bring major Brexit votes to Parliament, there is a good chance they will need to bring in legislation, like the Northern Ireland legislation that passed, that no one really thought about.

“But there is a good chance that some sort of legislation would be needed which would give opponents of no deal some sort of opportunity or the Speaker could grant some sort of opportunity. I think you’re right, there is a chance that would happen.

“But, the key point there is an opportunity to do something isn’t the same as actually doing it.

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“You have got to have the opportunity, and then you have got to win the key votes which we have seen before, they are on a knife-edge.

“People say there is no majority for no, which may be true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is a majority for whatever it is that the anti-no dealers’ want to do.

“We have seen in the past, those key votes have been on a knife-edge. Famously there was one where it was 308 to 308 and the Speaker had the casting vote.”

He added: “I think that is the key thing to bear in mind, actually what might be really challenging for the anti-no dealers’ is designing a device, if you have the opportunity to stop a no deal.

“Then you have to decide, do you want to force the Prime Minister to seek an extension, that is a very difficult task, because the Prime Minister has the prerogative power to conduct negotiations, it is up to him to decide whether to seek an extension, and even if he is offered an extension, it is up to him to decide whether to accept whatever the EU offers.

“So do they want to box him in with some legislation? Or do they want to change the default to revoke? But, again both of those options, it is not clear there is a majority to do that or to pass it. Passing a major bill like that is complicated in terms of the timings.

“When you look at it, it is very hard to see opponents of no deal pulling off something that big without a major political realignment and some constitutional ingenuity to pull it off.”

Last week pro-EU MPs suggested there was still time to block Britain from leaving the European Union without a deal at the end of October.

Rebels hinted under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, if the Government lost a vote of confidence MPs could seek to put a new government of national unity in its place – before going to the EU to ask for a further Brexit extension.

The Prime Minister’s special adviser, Dominic Cummings, reportedly suggested Mr Johnson would not necessarily have to resign, even if he lost a vote of no-confidence, or could even delay the timing of a potential general election until after Britain has left the EU.

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This week, the Speaker John Bercow, who has repeatedly given opportunities to pro-EU MPs in the Commons to frustrate the Brexit process, sparked fury after he warned he “will fight with every breath in my body” to stop any attempt by the Prime Minister to suspend Parliament in order to deliver Brexit on October 31.

Mr Bercow told an audience at the Edinburgh Fringe festival that he “strongly” believes the House of Commons “must have its way”.

He said: “If there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – God forbid – to close down Parliament, that is anathema to me. I will fight with every breath in my body to stop that happening.”

He added: “We cannot have a situation in which Parliament is shut down – we are a democratic society. And Parliament will be heard and nobody is going to get away as far as I am concerned with stopping that happening.”

But, earlier this week, the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote a letter to fellow opposition MPs and some Tory Remainers, calling for them to back him as a caretaker prime minister until a general election to halt the threat of a no deal Brexit at the end of October this year.

The Liberal Democrats dismissed the Labour leader as being the right person to lead a temporary government, while Downing Street criticised him for planning to “overrule the referendum”.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mr Johnson hit out at Remainer MPs and the European Union’s “terrible collaboration” as he was grilled by viewers during a live online Q&A session called the “People’s PMQs”.

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