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Sat, 4 April 2020

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Michael Gove suggests government could ignore fresh anti-Brexit legislation from MPs

Michael Gove suggests government could ignore fresh anti-Brexit legislation from MPs
3 min read

Michael Gove has suggested the government could ignore a bid from anti-Brexit MPs to halt no-deal with new legislation.

The senior cabinet figure said the Government would "wait and see" what legislation was put forward by MPs before deciding whether they would abide by it.

Anti-Brexit MPs are expected this week to launch a last-ditch bid to force Mr Johnson to extend the Article 50 process beyond the current Hallowe'en deadline.

But Mr Gove, who is in charge of planning for a no-deal exit, hinted the Government could refuse to comply with the order from Parliament.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr, he said: "Let's see what the legislation says. Let's see what it says.

"You are asking me about a pig in a poke, and I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward."

He added: "But for me the most important thing is that we already have legislation in place that an overwhelming majority of MPs voted for."

His comments come after Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said MPs faced their "last chance" to halt Mr Johnson's plans in the Commons this week.

But Mr Gove said  the bid would be a "denial" of the referendum vote.

"We don't know what is going to be in the legislation that will be put forward," he went on.

"Keir explained his intention, but from his point of view, perhaps understandably, [he] didn't say what was going to be in the Bill.

"But his intention is clear, and his intention is in essence to say that after three years through which the referendum result has not been respected, to have more delay, and in that sense, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we see a deal coming down the line, and just as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, Keir is saying: 'Let's have more tunnel.'"

He added: "I do not believe the British people want more delay, more prevarication, more denial of their original democratic vote."

But MPs were quick to condemn the comments, with Sir Keir saying the suggestion that the Government could ignore the MPs vote was "breathtaking".

"For ministers not to confirm that this Government will accept and comply with legislation lawfully passed is breathtaking," he tweeted.

"The Prime Minister must make a statement on this straightaway. No Government is above the law."

Labour's Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, added: "Boris Johnson has shown contempt for our democracy and the British people. Any move to ignore an act of Parliament would be a full-blown attack on our constitution."

Meanwhile, Tory MP and People's Vote supporter Guto Bebb, said: "This Government's unprecedented willingness to flout the rules is a disgrace to our democracy.

"Not only are they suspending Parliament  to try and force through a disastrous No Deal, but now they are suggesting that, even if Parliament passed a law requiring the Government to avoid No Deal, they might simply ignore it.

"Our very democracy is now under threat from Boris Johnson and his Government."

"No shortages"

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Gove also denied a no-deal could result in food shortages as he claimed families would "get the food they need".

It comes ahead of a fresh government advertising push to inform inviduals and businesses about the potential impacts of a no-deal.

But pressed on potential shortages, Mr Gove admitted some prices might rise.

"There will be no shortages of fresh food," he said.

"I think there are a number of economic factors in play, some prices may go up, others may go down."

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