Downing Street fears rebel MPs will seize control of Brexit process if May’s deal falls

Posted On: 
13th January 2019

Downing Street is braced for a Commons showdown with rebel backbenchers after a plan to seize control of the Brexit process was unearthed, it has been reported.

Theresa May will finally put her Brexit deal to MPs in a decisive Commons vote next week
Credit: 
PA

According to the Sunday Times, MPs unhappy with the government’s performance have been plotting a “coup” which would see them take over Parliamentary business if the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal is defeated next week.

The move – which is supposedly being spearheaded by former ministers Dominic Grieve and Oliver Letwin – would come in the form of an amendment to a government motion calling for some backbench business to take precedence.

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The decision on whether the amendment can move forward will fall to Speaker John Bercow, who recently upended Commons convention to hand more power to Brexit rebels.

The newspaper reports that Downing Street was made aware of the plot when Chief Whip Julian Smith overheard it being discussed in the MPs’ cloakroom – prompting him to take legal advice.

In a subsequent briefing to Theresa May, Mr Smith wrote: “Such an attempt represents a clear and present danger to all government business.

“Without control of the order paper, the government has no control over the House of Commons and the parliamentary business and legislation necessary to progress government policies.

“The government would lose its ability to govern.”

If successful the unprecedented change to Commons rules could open the door for Brexit to be postponed or reversed.

A senior government source said: “This could be game over for Brexit.”

Another added: “This sounds very like a very British coup — and one that has profound implications for democracy.”

NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

Meanwhile, the Observer reports that Labour is poised to tabled a motion of no confidence in Mrs May’s government in the wake of the meaningful vote next week.

According to the newspaper, the party’s MPs – even those who are currently off ill -  have been told they must be in Parliament to decide on the Brexit agreement and should be ready for the no confidence vote which is expected to come as early as the following day.

A senior shadow cabinet member said: “There is now recognition that we cannot wait any longer.

“If May goes down to defeat and she does not resign and call an election, this is the moment we have to act.”

Jeremy Corbyn hopes the move will trigger a general election, although as the DUP have signaled they will support the government it is thought the Opposition does not currently have the numbers to win.