Mon, 27 May 2024

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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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John Bercow blocks plan to stop no deal Brexit by cutting off government spending

2 min read

An attempt by MPs to try and block a no-deal Brexit by cutting off spending to government departments has been dashed by John Bercow.

The Commons Speaker decided not to choose an amendment in the name of former Tory frontbencher Dominic Grieve and Labour grandee Dame Margaret Beckett which would have prevented the Department for International Development from accessing Treasury funds.

An identical amendment to a so-called "estimates" debate scheduled for Tuesday - which would have blocked funding for education and welfare - is also not expected to be selected by Mr Bercow.

The controversial mechanism would have cut off cash to areas such as schools, benefits and international aid - effectively shutting the Government down – if the new Prime Minister tries to pursue no-deal.

A spokesman for Theresa May had described the plan as "grossly irresponsible".

He said: "This is government spending for this financial year and funds schools, housing and welfare.

“It aims to stop the departments accessing finance in a particular circumstance and we would find that to be grossly irresponsible.”

Under parliamentary rules, MPs must back all government expenditure twice a year, but the Grieve-Beckett amendment would have removed ministers' ability to spend cash unless MPs had approved no deal.

Both candidates in the race to be the new Prime Minister said they were prepared to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October even if there was no withdrawal agreement in place.

Frontrunner Boris Johnson has pledged to deliver Brexit "do or die" by the end of the Article 50 extension, and rival Jeremy Hunt reaffirmed his commitment to keeping no deal on the table in a speech on Monday.

A spokesman for Mr Hunt had said the Grieve-Beckett amendment could make it harder for ministers to reach a deal with Brussels.

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