Matt Hancock says no-deal Brexit 'cannot be stopped' by MPs in fresh U-turn

Posted On: 
5th August 2019

Matt Hancock has insisted that a no-deal Brexit "cannot be stopped" by MPs, just weeks after claiming that it was "not credible" for any Prime Minister to pursue the option.

Matt Hancock
Credit: 
PA Images

The Health Secretary said he had “changed his mind” after the Commons voted down Labour's attempt to seize control of the order paper in June as part of a bid to stop any PM railing through the option without Parliament’s consent.

Mr Hancock, who ran against Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership race before pulling out to back him, had insisted that a no-deal Brexit was “not credible”.

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He then told The Times that the "the brutal truth" was that “no-deal is not a policy option available to the next prime minister whether they like it or not”.

When asked if he would repeat his claim, the Cabinet minister told the Today programme: “No, my view on that has changed and it's changed because there were votes in Parliament just before we rose for the summer that I thought would stop a no-deal Brexit and actually were defeated.

“There was a vote in particular in the middle of the leadership contest where Parliament was asked if it wanted to stop a no-deal Brexit.

“I thought that that would go through and in fact the Government won by 11 and so that has actually changed my mind because the Parliament arithmetic did not play out as I anticipated.”

He added: “I now don’t think it can, and I thought that it could and the votes went differently to what I anticipated and when the facts change sometimes even as a politician you have to change your mind.”

His intervention comes after reports that senior Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings had insisted that a no-deal Brexit can be forced through if the Government loses a vote of no confidence.

The one-time Leave campaign chief's claim was later dismissed by pro-Remain Tory MP Dominic Grieve, who branded him "the master of disinformation".

Labour MP and campaigner for a People’s Vote, Anna McMorrin told PoliticsHome: "Matt Hancock is simply wrong to say our sovereign Parliament cannot stop a disastrous No Deal.

"MPs from all parties, including a number of Conservatives, have shown they are ready to seize control of the agenda or, if necessary, bring the Government down.

"To claim there is no majority against No Deal is patently absurd.

"Rather than downplaying the risks of No Deal, perhaps then health secretary should ask those working in the NHS what the impact would be.

"It is an outrage that he is willing to force this on the health service and the country without anyone except the 0.1% of the population who voted for Boris Johnson having any say over it whatsoever."