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Tue, 7 April 2020

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Blow for MPs' hopes of stopping no-deal Brexit as Deputy Speaker rejects latest Dominic Grieve plan

Blow for MPs' hopes of stopping no-deal Brexit as Deputy Speaker rejects latest Dominic Grieve plan
2 min read

MPs' hopes of stopping a no-deal Brexit have been dealt another blow after the Commons' Deputy Speaker rejected a key plank of Dominic Grieve's bid to stop the next Prime Minister from shutting down Parliament.

The former attorney general had tabled a string of amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill which would have forced ministers to regularly come to the Commons in the run-up to a possible no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October.

The move was designed to prevent Theresa May's successor proroguing Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit - something Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out.

Mr Grieve's plan would have effectively stopped a future PM from making the controversial move by requiring ministers to come to the Commons in the build-up to the October Brexit deadline.

But Commons deputy speaker Eleanor Laing dealt the bid a major blow by rejecting a key amendment that was seen as giving it legal force and would have required ministers to come to the Commons if Parliament was not in session.

Mr Grieve's previous attempt to thwart a no-deal Brexit was scuppered last week when Mr Bercow refused to select an amendment tabled with Labour’s ex-Foreign Secretary Dame Margaret Beckett which would have cut off cash to government departments in such a scenario.

Mr Johnson, who is the front-runner in the Conservative leadership race, has pledged to take Britain out of the EU on 31 October "do or die".

Speaking to Radio Four's Today programme, Mr Grieve had said: "The idea that it is constitutionally proper to prorogue Parliament as a device for bringing about a no-deal Brexit is outrageous. I have never come across a more extraordinary suggestion."

The purpose of the Northern Ireland Bill is to ensure that civil servants can continue to run the province while talks continue to re-establish the Stormont Assembly.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said Mr Grieve's amendment "risked being counter-productive to that over-arching aim".