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Boris Johnson news: John Bercow warns prime minister against disobeying law by not asking for Brexit delay

Follow how the day in Westminster unfolded

Samuel Osborne,Adam Forrest,Ashley Cowburn
Thursday 12 September 2019 23:50
Bercow warns that disobeying no-deal Brexit law would make PM no better than a bank robber

John Bercow has warned Boris Johnson against disobeying the law by not asking for a Brexit delay

It comes after the prime minister denied lying to the Queen over the suspension of parliament, insisting such claims were “absolutely not” true.

Earlier on Thursday, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed the title of the Yellowhammer document, seen by her Holyrood government, was changed before its release by Downing Street on Wednesday night.

Mr Johnson is under renewed pressure to reopen parliament after the dossier revealed the “unprecedented” scale of the problems the nation could face in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


Good morning and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of events at Westminster and beyond.

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 08:23

Former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve has accused the government of “trashing the constitution” and says the level of disruption set out in the Yellowhammer papers is “unprecedented”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Grieve said: “The government is conducting itself in a thoroughly un-Conservative way, trashing the constitution and letting out, saying the most extraordinary things, including allowing No 10 to launch attacks on the judiciary until they were stopped by the Lord Chancellor.”

Grieve added: “This is a government which, in peace time, is content on inflicting on the British public the level of disruption which is set out in the Yellowhammer papers.

“It is unprecedented. I can't think of an occasion where I have seen something of this kind before … Even if we are ready for a no-deal Brexit, this is highly disruptive and costly.”

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 08:26

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said parliament should be recalled so the PM can answer questions in relation to Yellowhammer, which he said is more like planning for “war or a natural disaster”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr McDonald said: “It reveals an absolute catastrophe for our country if he continues to drive the ship towards the rocks as he is going to do."

He added: “This is more like emergency planning for war or a natural disaster. We cannot minimise this. It does not get more stark and we have got to wake up to the issues around us.”

McDonald also said Labour wants to stop a no-deal Brexit and gain an extension to Article 50. He said when an extension is obtained, Labour would favour a general election. He also said the public would be offered a referendum with a “credible deal” opposite a Remain option.

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 08:31

A civil servants’ union has written to Boris Johnson seeking assurances Whitehall staff will not be asked to break the law during his manoeuvrings on Brexit.

With Downing Street insisting the government will not comply with an act designed to avoid a no-deal Brexit, the FDA has written to its members saying senior civil servants might be forced to break the law – and may be prosecuted if they help the PM defy the will of parliament.

The letter from FDA general secretary Dave Penman tells Johnson of “increasing consternation” among civil servants. Penman told Mr Johnson that Brexit had been a “lightning rod for attacks on the civil service”.

Prominent figures who “seek to further their own political agenda” had been prepared to sacrifice public confidence in the service through "baseless allegations of bias" and other attempts to undermine its integrity.

“As prime minister and therefore Minister for the Civil Service, civil servants look to you to defend these principles,” Penman wrote, “but increasingly over the last few weeks the greatest concern for civil servants has come from the very office that is meant to be at the frontline of its defence”.

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 08:44

Boris Johnson failed to address allegations that he misled the Queen as he appeared in public for the first time since a court ruled his suspension of parliament was unlawful.

All the details of his 15-minute “People’s PMQs” event here.

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 08:56

Former Tory home secretary Amber Rudd said she will not join another party, and will stand as an independent Conservative if the Tory whip has not been restored to her before a general election.

Rudd told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am a Conservative, and if it comes to a general election in the short term, although of course none of us know when that might be, if I am not back with the Conservative whip, then I am likely to fight as an independent Conservative and I am looking at options at the moment.”

She added: “I will not be fighting for another party. I hope to be fighting as a Conservative, and, if not, with up to 20 people as an independent Conservative, depending on whether or not the whip has been returned.”

There are reports this morning that the chief whip has written to the 21 Tory rebels offering an “olive branch” and a way back into the party so long as they play by the rules.

Intriguingly, Rudd also said Theresa May’s government had considered proroguing parliament, but had rejected the idea as “the wrong approach”.  

Asked about the current suspension, she said: “I am surprised, and I think it is a very un-Conservative thing to be doing.”

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 09:01

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 09:03

Boris Johnson is under renewed pressure to recall parliament after the Yellowhammer papers revealed the “unprecedented” scale of what the nation could face in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “These documents confirm the severe risks of a no deal Brexit, which Labour has worked so hard to block.

“It is also now more important than ever that Parliament is recalled and has the opportunity to scrutinise these documents and take all steps necessary to stop no deal.”

Our political editor has looked through the official assessments forced out of the government last night.

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 09:18
Adam Forrest12 September 2019 09:20

Adam Forrest12 September 2019 09:29

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