Remainer MPs face a ‘near impossible task’ if they try to stop a No Deal Brexit a think tank warns – unless they get help from sympathetic Speaker John Bercow
- Institute for Government said MPs had ‘limited options’ available to them
- Would be aided if Speaker ‘chooses to be even more flexible’ in interpreting rules
- Theresa May’s replacement looks set to be an MP from the Tory Brexiteer wing
- Mr Bercow has been accused of being sympathetic to the Remainer cause
Remainer MPs wanting to block a No deal Brexit face a ‘near impossible task’ to stop it happening if a prime minister really wants to do it, a think tank warned today.
Parliament has ‘limited options’ to move against a leader determined to leave the EU unless Speaker John Bercow ‘chooses to be even more flexible’ in interpreting Parliament’s rules, the Institute for Government said.
Pro-EU politicians have so far managed to block moves to set the UK on a path to leaving without a deal.
Theresa May has refused to allow it, but her replacement looks set to be an MP from the Brexiteer wing of the Conservatives.
It raises the possibility of a leader like Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab taking the UK out on October 31.
Theresa May (pictured today with husband Philip) has refused to allow a No Deal Brexit but her replacement looks set to be an MP from the Brexiteer wing of the Conservatives
Mr Bercow has been accused of being sympathetic to the Remainer cause when he should be impartial
Both have said the UK should not be afraid of leaving without a deal.
The IoG’s Maddy Thimont Jack said while solid legislative methods might not work a lot would depend on how much a new PM bowed to political pressure.
‘It looks like a near impossible task for MPs to stop a prime minister who is determined to leave the EU without a deal,’ she said.
‘Parliamentary procedure offers no route, and the only apparent way to blocking no deal – a vote of no confidence – would be a massive gamble for Tory MPs.
‘But a prime minister who wants to leave the EU without a deal would face considerable pressure, both within Parliament and beyond, to change path, and he or she would have to explain how they would govern in the weeks and months after a no deal exit.
‘So while the legislative routes may no longer be open, political pressure matters – as any previous occupant of Number 10 would no doubt testify.’
The IoG set out possible ways MPs could seek to thwart a No Deal Brexit and why they might not work:
- Pass a backbench or Opposition Day motion opposing no deal: These would be ‘politically important’ but lack ‘legal teeth’. They require the Government to schedule an opposition day when other parties can table business, so could be avoided by not scheduling any before October 31.
- Apply to the Speaker for emergency debates under Standing Order 24: These are simple motions in ‘neutral’ terms, which means MPs cannot amend them to handcuff the Government and are not legally binding.
- Amend the Queen’s Speech: A new PM would be expected to end or ‘prorogue’ the current Parliament after being elected leader of the Tories. This would require a new Queen’s Speech, which has to be voted on by MPs. It could be avoided by continuing the current ‘zombie’ session past October 31.
- Vote against all Government business: Without any major legislation due to pass before Brexit because of the state of the Government, ‘a new prime minister may not be overly concerned by the prospect of inconsequential legislative defeats’.
- A ‘no confidence’ vote in the Government: If the Government lost the vote it would see parties try to form a workable Government within two weeks – or trigger a general election. But in order to succeed ‘there would need to be a new prime minister in place who is prepared to go to the EU to ask for a further extension’.
Mr Bercow has been accused of being sympathetic to the Remainer cause when he should be impartial.
He previously revealed publicly that he voted for Remain in 2016, fuelling claims by Brexiteers he is trying to frustrate Brexit in the Commons.
An anti-Brexit sticker was spotted in a black Land Rover parked outside Mr Bercow’s Commons home – he has insisted the car and sticker belongs to his wife Sally.
Brexiteers were furious in March when he refused to accept an amendment that sought to rule out a second referendum on Brexit.
It added to complaints through much of the two-and-a-half years since the referendum that he has sought to boost pro-EU supporters such as Dominic Grieve and Ken Clarke at the expense of Brexiteers.
Later that month he was accused of sabotaging Theresa May’s Brexit after banning her from forcing a third vote on the same deal and told MPs: ‘I have never been pushed around – I’m not going to start now’.
The Commons Speaker cited a Commons precedent from 1604 to inflict an extraordinary blow to Mrs May’s hopes of getting her divorce through Parliament – unless it was ‘substantially’ adapted with just ten days until Britain was originally due to leave the EU on March 29.
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