Downing Street: Backbencher Brexit moves ‘extremely concerning’


Downing Street has described as “extremely concerning” reports that Conservative backbenchers will propose legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit or suspend the process altogether.

One group, led by former Tory minister Nick Boles and Labour MP Yvette Cooper, is said to be attempting to block the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement about a future relationship.

A second group, led by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, wants to go further and suspend the Article 50 withdrawal process, the legal means by which the UK would leave, The Sunday Times reports.

In response, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Any attempt to remove the government’s power to meet the legal conditions of an orderly exit at this moment of historic significance is extremely concerning.

“This news should serve as a reminder to those MPs who want to deliver Brexit that they need to vote for it – otherwise there is a danger that parliament could stop Brexit.”

The Sunday Times said it had obtained emails showing Mr Grieve had been in contact with a Commons clerk to discuss how to suspend article 50.

In a statement, a House of Commons spokesman said: “It is common practice for clerks to provide advice to Members on the drafting of many items of parliamentary business, such as bills, motions and amendments.

“This advice is provided on a rigorously impartial basis. We do not comment on individual cases.”

Mrs May is due to hold a Brexit conference call with her cabinet on Sunday afternoon, updating them on the conversations she has had with EU leaders over the weekend.

Then on Monday she will make a statement to MPs, setting out how she intends to proceed with Brexit following the tumultuous events of last week.

She will also table a “neutral” motion – expected to attract a flurry of amendments from MPs – which will be debated and voted on on 29 January.

Amid the parliamentary manoeuvring, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is said to be considering a return to frontline politics as head of a new Brexit Party.

“There is huge demand for a party that’s got real clarity in this issue,” he told The Sun on Sunday.

“It’s clear the political elite want to stop Brexit in its tracks and the prime minister doesn’t have the strength or inclination to see this through.”

Pro-Brexit International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has warned of a “political tsunami” if the government fails to deliver on the result of the referendum.

He has also hit out at ministers calling for Mrs May to rule out a no-deal Brexit, saying the “most stupid thing possible” in a negotiation is to “give away your strongest card”.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Dr Fox said: “Failure to deliver Brexit would produce a yawning gap between parliament and the people, a schism in our political system with unknowable consequences.

“The reaction of the Question Time audience could become a political tsunami. It is time for MPs to deliver on the promises they made. It is a matter of honour and a matter of duty.”

:: Sky News will broadcast a special live debate called Brexit Crisis – Deal Or No Deal this evening from 7pm to 8pm.

An invited audience of voters in Leeds will react to the results of a Sky Data poll on some of the key issues facing the country.

(c) Sky News 2019: Downing Street: Backbencher Brexit moves ‘extremely concerning’

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