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Cross-party group of senior MPs launch bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Top MPs from across the political divide have launched a bid to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The chairs of six powerful committees - led by Brexit Select Committee boss Hilary Benn – hope to use the ‘meaningful vote’ showdown in Parliament to stop a no-deal departure.

The Labour MP has tabled an amendment aiming to reject the Brexit deal struck between Theresa May in Brussels and allow the Commons to set a different course.

Mr Benn has won the support of prominent Tory MP Dominic Grieve, who chairs the Intelligence and Security Committee and secured the vote in Parliament on the Brexit deal in the first place.

Sarah Wollaston, Tory chair of the Health Select Committee, is also on board, as are Labour MPs Yvette Cooper, Meg Hillier and Rachel Reeves – respective chairs of the home affairs, public accounts and business select committees.

Mrs May is increasingly certain to lose the vote on her Brexit deal when it comes before parliament on 11 December after the number of Tory MPs who oppose it reached 100.

Every opposition party has also vowed to reject it, leaving the chances of a Commons majority practically non-existent.

But MPs are getting worried that rejecting the deal could lead to the UK quitting on World Trade Organisation rules when the EU exit date comes on 29 March next year.

Economic forecasts by the Bank of England and the Treasury this week said a no-deal Brexit would cripple the economy while sending house prices plummeting and interest rates soaring.  

Mr Benn said his amendment “opposes the [PM’s] deal, rejects a no deal Brexit and would enable the House to express its view about what should happen next if the Prime Minister’s deal is defeated”.

Amendments from opposition parties and MPs hoping to force another referendum, a general election or another form of Brexit are expected to flood in over the coming days.

The Government has said six will be voted on before a final vote on the controversial withdrawal agreement and future declaration Mrs May brought back from Brussels.

But the amendments will have no legal weight. They simply give a political view, leaving the Government to decide how to manage the fallout.

Yesterday Labour tabled its own amendment in a bid to stop a no-deal Brexit, while the BBC reports that a cross-party amendment from a number of opposition parties is being plotted.

Meanwhile, the Times reports that Europe is prepared to offer the UK a three-month extension to the Article 50 timetable for Brexit, in a bid to avoid a no-deal departure. 

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