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Brexit: Labour announce bid to block new Tory PM from suspending parliament to force through no-deal

'MPs cannot be bystanders while the next Tory PM tries to crash the UK out of the EU,' says Starmer

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 11 June 2019 16:45 BST
'I will use every tool at my disposal...but it would not be my priority' Esther McVey refuses to rule out proroguing Parliament to get no deal Brexit through

Labour will mount a bid to seize control of the Commons agenda to prevent the next Tory prime minister forcing through a no-deal Brexit.

The cross-party bid, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn, would see opposition MPs hijack the parliamentary timetable on 25 June, allowing them to introduce legislation to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

It comes amid mounting fears a new Tory leader could try to force through a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, with several contenders vowing to leave on that date, with or without a deal.

Dominic Raab, the ex-Brexit secretary, provoked outrage when he mooted suspending parliament to prevent MPs from blocking Brexit, and Esther McVey, the former work and pensions secretary, has not ruled it out.

In a move sure to infuriate his colleagues, their fellow leadership contender Rory Stewart has signalled he could back the opposition moves.

Launching his leadership bid at a circus tent on London's South Bank, Mr Stewart said: "I am entirely against no deal. I am entirely against peroration. I haven't read the details of this. My instinct is I would be wholly supportive of a move that tried to do that."

MPs will vote on the binding motion on Wednesday, which has also been backed by Tory grandee Sir Oliver Letwin, who led a successful attempt to hijack the Commons agenda in March for a series of votes on different Brexit options.

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: “The debate on Brexit in the Tory leadership contest has descended into the disturbing, the ludicrous and the reckless.

“None of the likely candidates for the top job has a credible plan for how to break the deadlock before the end of October.

"Instead, we have witnessed candidates openly advocating a damaging no-deal Brexit and even proposing dragging the Queen into politics by asking her to shut down parliament to achieve this.

“MPs cannot be bystanders while the next Tory prime minister tries to crash the UK out of the European Union without a deal and without the consent of the British people.

"That’s why we are taking this latest measure to end the uncertainty and protect communities across the country.

“My challenge to MPs who disagree either with a no deal Brexit or proroguing parliament is to back this motion and act in the national interest.”

Labour has tabled the motion using an opposition day debate, but unlike typical opposition sessions, it will be binding on the government if it is passed.

Also backed by the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and Greens, it clears the agenda on 25 June, giving MPs the chance to introduce measures, including legislation, to prevent a no-deal exit.

Nikki da Costa, a former director of legislative affairs at Downing Street, said she believed the move was unprecedented.

She tweeted: "Waiting to see text of motion...but I cannot tell you how extraordinary it is to attempt to lift standing orders through an Opposition Day."

Theresa May's government has previously allowed some opposition day motions to pass unopposed, however ministers will be very reluctant to allow this bid to pass.

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Sir Oliver's backing may embolden other Tory MPs - who would normally refuse to back a Labour motion - which could hand victory to Mr Corbyn.

The knife-edge vote comes amid fresh tensions in the party on Brexit after it scraped a narrow victory in last week's Peterborough by-election against Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

Mr Corbyn endured a stormy meeting of the parliamentary Labour party on Monday, where he faced recriminations over the party's poor European elections performance last month.

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