Tory rebels accused of ‘sabotaging’ Boris Johnson with plot to force Brexit extension even if deal passes
A group of rebel Tory MPs have been accused of “sabotaging” Boris Johnson with a plot to force an extension to Brexit even if a deal is agreed.
Former cabinet ministers Philip Hammond and Dominic Grieve are said to be central to the plan to compel the Prime Minister to request a delay to Article 50 whatever the outcome of this week’s negotiations.
Mr Johnson is currently trying to finalise a new agreement with Brussels ahead of a crucial European summit on Thursday.
He then hopes to bring a deal back to the UK and get MPs to vote for it on a historic Saturday sitting of the House of Commons.
If he can get something approved by Parliament before 19 October the PM hopes to get round the Benn Act, which legally requires him to send a letter to the EU asking for a Brexit extension.
But the Mail on Sunday is reporting that the rebel MPs, whose votes he will need to pass a deal, do not think the PM should be allowed to take the UK out of the EU at the end of the month.
They believe Parliament must be given more time to examine the deal and pass the necessary legislation.
A source close to Mr Hammond told the newspaper: “There is a distinction between Parliament ‘approving’ the broad outline of a deal in a simple motion and Parliament legislating for a deal.
“The fact is that the latter is not possible in the time remaining, so the Benn Act will come into force to allow some time to legislate and finalise the deal.”
But in response a senior Government source said: “As Chancellor, Hammond sabotaged the negotiations and sabotaged preparations to leave – now he’s trying to sabotage leaving altogether.
“His latest move shows that he is not trying to stop no-deal – he is trying to enforce a no Brexit’.
But the former Chancellor was backed by ex-Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who insisted a delay was needed even with a deal. Mr Grieve said: “He’s going to have to extend. I cannot see how he would be justified in trying to force through a major piece of constitutional legislation, the Withdrawal Agreement Act, in seven days.
And Sir David Lidington, who was Theresa May’s de facto deputy PM, said: “I’ve always felt there would at least need to be a time where technical legal details had to be hammered out and that was going to take us beyond the end of October.”