Boris Johnson eyes 9 September as key date in fight with MPs to block no-deal Brexit
Boris Johnson has identified 9 September as the key date in the upcoming fight with MPs who want to block a no-deal Brexit, according to a senior Government source.
The Prime Minister believes that is when rebel Tories will launch their bid to pass legislation preventing him from taking the UK out of the EU without their approval.
If they fail he thinks Brussels will then signal that it is willing to re-start talks on improving the Withdrawal Agreement, the source added.
The significance of the date is that it is when the Commons will debate a motion on progress in restoring the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland.
It will also be an opportunity to alter the law to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, thanks to an amendment to a bill laid down by Tory MP Dominic Grieve last month.
It requires a minister to come to the despatch box every two weeks and update the House on the progress of talks at Stormont, with a motion to be voted on five days later.
Number 10 are said to believe if they can survive the first of those votes, scheduled for Monday 9 September, six days after MPs return from summer recess, then it will be impossible for Parliament to halt a no-deal scenario.
The rebel Tories, led by former Attorney General Mr Grieve, have been working to find a mechanism to block the PM’s plans, and are said to be favouring going down the legislative route rather than backing a no confidence vote in the first week back.
They are expected to make a move to get control of the order paper and pass a bill forcing the Government to ask the EU for another extension to Article 50, or even to revoke it.
It comes after a leading think tank said MPs fighting against no-deal would “need new tactics” and are running out of time to prevent it.
The so-called “nuclear option” to bring down the Government would still be a fall-back option, but Mr Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings is thought to believe a resulting general election can be delayed until after Hallowe’en, which is why 9 September has emerged as the most important of the 80 days before the Brexit deadline.
'DETERMINED TO GET A DEAL'
Officially Mr Johnson is said to be "energetic in pursuit of a deal" with the EU, despite the increasing focus on no-deal preparations.
According to the PM’s official spokesman, Mr Johnson “is very clear in his determination to want to get a deal", and "believes a deal is in the UK's and the EU's best interest".
He added: “He has held a number of conversations with EU leaders, so has the Prime Minister’s sherpa David Frost.
“We are also making very detailed preparations at home to ensure the UK is ready to leave the EU in all circumstances on 31 October.”
However he said he was not "aware of" any plans for Mr Johnson to meet senior European leaders ahead of the G7 meeting next weekend, and no official negotiations in Brussels are scheduled either.
But insiders say the EU is waiting to see what happens when Parliament returns from recess before starting formal negotiations.
They are said to be wary of making formal moves to alter the deal before it is known whether MPs are successful in blocking no-deal.
A source said that expectations are that if a deal was to come “it would come very late” on in the process leading up to 31 October.
And they also rebutted the idea that no dialogue is taking place just because formal negotiations are not underway and the PM has not been seen visiting European leaders.
They said there is “a difference between talks and negotiations”, and that there is much groundwork underway ahead of any attempts to broker a new deal.