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MPs unveil plan to seize control of Brexit process from Theresa May if her deal is defeated

MPs unveil plan to seize control of Brexit process from Theresa May if her deal is defeated
5 min read

Theresa May will have just three weeks to get a Brexit deal through the House of Commons or lose control of the process under plans being drawn up by senior Tory MPs.

Conservative Nick Boles confirmed that he had teamed up with senior colleagues Nicky Morgan and Sir Oliver Letwin to try and force ministers to put all Government business "to one side" and let a powerful group of MPs come up with an alternative plan.

But he denied that the proposals to let the 36-strong Liaison Committee take over amounted to a parliamentary "coup" against the embattled Prime Minister.

Meanwhile the chair of the Liaison Committee revealed she had not been consulted about the plan and warned that MPs "cannot take over conducting a complex international negotiation".

The proposal - which will be unveiled in full at 3pm today, just minutes before Theresa May addresses the Commons - would see the Prime Minister effectively sidelined if MPs reject her deal tomorrow and she cannot come up with an alternative in three weeks.

Explaining the proposals on the Today programme, Mr Boles said: "We are going to lay an amendment that would do two things: it would allocate a day quite soon in which the business of the Government would be put to one side and Parliament would be presented with a very short bill...

"This bill would do the following - it would give the Government three more weeks to get a compromise deal - a Plan B - through parliament so that we're leaving the EU on time on the 29th March with a deal.

"If that failed, it would then ask the Liaison Committee... to try and come up with its own compromise deal, which would have to go back to the house for a vote.

"And if the House passed that compromise deal then the Government would be legally required to implement whatever it was that they had."


All three of the MPs behind the plan have vowed to support Mrs May's deal in the crunch Commons vote tomorrow.

But the Prime Minister is expected to suffer a heavy defeat, and Mr Boles said it was vital for MPs to seize the reins if the Government cannot get parliament behind its Brexit plan.

"We would be doing so only in the context where they had failed and failed and failed again - that they fail tomorrow and that they fail for the whole of the next three weeks," he said.

"There are plenty of compromises out there, I've been promoting one of them - the Common Market 2.0 idea - there are other compromises out there which could secure a parliamentary majority.

"And what we want is the Prime Minister to be the person who secures that.

"But what MPs need to understand is that if she fails - then we are not going to allow a no-deal Brexit to happen. And that is what this bill secures."

But Commons leader Andrea Leadsom warned that the bid could undermine "centuries of convention and the rulebook" used by Parliament.

She told the Daily Mail: "The reason why our Parliament is looked up to around the world is because we have the right balance between the executive, the Government who proposes legislation and the timetable, and then a very strong tradition of scrutiny.

"I am incredibly concerned about it. I am a huge supporter of Parliament and the rights of Parliament, but to overturn the way we run our democracy is an incredibly dangerous prospect."

Security Minister Ben Wallace meanwhile accused Mr Boles of trying to "usurp the democratically elected Government".



And, in a blow for Mr Boles, Liaison Committee chair Sarah Wollaston said she had not been consulted on the plans.





Hitting back at criticism of his proposals this morning, however, Mr Boles said: "It's a funny kind of coup which requires a majority vote of democratically-elected MPs before the tanks start rolling. So no - really it isn't a coup, it's an expression of parliamentary will."

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