Queen would have to shut down Parliament if no-deal Brexit ruled out, Jacob Rees-Mogg says
The Queen would have to step in and halt Parliament if the Government allows a no-deal Brexit to be taken off the table, anti-EU Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg declared today.
The chair of the powerful European Research Group of backbench Tories said “extraordinary constitutional” measures would be needed if ministers “connived” to have Article 50 extended.
But the pro-Brexit firebrand offered an olive branch to Theresa May as he made clear he would back the deal she clinched with Brussels if the controversial Northern Irish backstop is killed off.
More than 100 Tories joined forces with opposition MPs last week to vote the deal down in Parliament – leaving the Prime Minister grappling to find a way to break the deadlock.
She has reached out across the House for support and urged the European Union to come up with a way to eliminate or neuter the backstop, which critics fear could leave Britain tied to the bloc forever.
But amid the crisis in Westminster, backbenchers from across the political divide have been angling to ensure a no-deal departure from the EU cannot happen on 29 March.
One plan laid out in an amendment by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and gaining traction among MPs could see the Article 50 process automatically delayed if no deal is agreed by the end of February.
But Mr Rees-Mogg warned that for the plot to succeed would require the Government to have “connived” by allowing the relevant bill to pass.
He told a Bruges Group event in Westmister that historic laws allow the monarch to arrive in parliament to halt proceedings in the Commons “straight away”.
“I hope it will not be necessary for Her Majesty’s stay at Sandringham to be interrupted by her in person having to prorogue Parliament,” the North East Somerset MP told fans.
“We do not want that sort of constitutional crisis – we want to observe the constitutional norms.”
He added: “If the House of Commons undermines our basic constitutional conventions then the executive is entitled to use other… constitutional means to stop it – by which I basically mean prorogation.
“Prorogation normally lasts for three days but any law that is in the process before prorogation falls.
“And I think there would be the Government’s answer – that would be the Government’s backstop, to use a choice phrase.
“If the Government allows no-deal to be taken off the table that would be a failure of that Government and then it would be the job of backbench MPs to hold the Government to account.”
'REFORMATION' OF BREXIT DEAL
Elsewhere, Mr Rees-Mogg made an apparent peace offering to Mrs May as he said the backstop was “overwhelmingly” the issue with the deal and he could vote for it otherwise.
“As long as that backstop is there I will not vote for this deal. And I think that the chances… of people stopping Brexit are very slim,” he explained.
“Of course any deal would be better than not leaving at all. But this deal against the risk of not leaving is not good enough.
“Ladies and Gentlemen I think at last things are going our way… I hope that a reformation of this deal could be achieved that could make it acceptable – but it is not there yet.”
He pointed to claims the Irish government could be willing to agre a bilateral trade deal with the UK in an effort to keep the Northern Irish border open.
He added: “Leaving without a deal on World Trade terms is nothing to be frightened of. But if we can do something better and we can bring the whole country with us I think that is worth doing.”