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Dominic Grieve unveils plan to stop Boris Johnson shutting down Parliament to force no-deal Brexit

3 min read

Dominic Grieve has unveiled a plan to try and prevent Boris Johnson suspending Parliament to push a no-deal Brexit in the face of MPs' opposition.

The former attorney general has tabled an amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill which would force ministers to regularly come to the Commons in the run-up to a possible no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October.

The amendment - which could still be blocked by Speaker John Bercow - would require Parliament to be in session on 4 September, 9 October and then every two weeks until 18 December.

Ministers would also be compelled to give fortnightly updates on the situation in Northern Ireland throughout that period.

A previous attempt by Mr Grieve 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".

While he has said he is "not attracted to" proroguing Parliament in order to ensure the UK leaves the European Union in time for the Hallow'en deadline, Mr Johnson has stopped short of ruling it out on several occasions.

If passed, Mr Grieve's new plan would effectively stop Mr Johnson from making the controversial move in the build-up to the October Brexit deadline.

Speaking to Radio Four's Today programme, Mr Grieve 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.

"If you decide that Parliament is an inconvenience, when in fact it is the place where democratic legitimacy lies in our constitution and therefore it's accpetable to get rid of it for a period because it might otherwise prevent you from doing something which Parliament would prevent, then it's the end of democracy."

Northern Ireland is currently without a devolved government at Stormont, and the amendment "would require fortnightly reports to be after the conference recess until an Executive was formed, or until the December recess".

The move is based around a section of the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act, which compels the Commons and Lords to sit at times of national emergency.

Former Tory leadership contender Dominic Raab came under fire earlier in the race after he hinted that he would be prepared to press ahead with proroguing Parliament.

A group of around 30 Tory MPs are said to be weighing up plans to thwart a no-deal Brexit - with The Times reporting on Tuesday that Chancellor Philip Hammond is urging Theresa May to give MPs a free vote on any bid to stop a hard exit.

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