Ministers threaten to quit to join fresh Remainer bid to stop Boris Johnson forcing No Deal Brexit

Remainers are today launching a fresh bid to prevent No Deal – with ministers threatening to quit to joint the mutiny.

MPs are set to vote on legislation that could thwart any effort by Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament to ensure Brexit happens on October 31.

Mr Johnson, the overwhelming favourite to succeed Theresa May next week, has repeatedly refused to rule out using the constitutionally explosive tactic – although he has made clear it would not be his first choice.

An eminent former judge warned today that efforts by ex-PM Sir John Major and others to bring a judicial review of such a move would be likely to fail.

Justice Secretary David Gauke, who has already said he will not serve under Mr Johnson, this morning refused to rule out resigning to join the revolt. Chancellor Philip Hammond is also thought to be considering his position. 

Justice Secretary David Gauke

Justice Secretary David Gauke

Chancellor Philip Hammond is also thought to be considering his position

Chancellor Philip Hammond is also thought to be considering his position

Justice Secretary David Gauke (pictured left), who has already said he will not serve under Mr Johnson, this morning refused to rule out resigning to join the revolt. Chancellor Philip Hammond (right) is also thought to be considering his position

Boris Johnson (pictured at Tory hustings in London last night) has repeatedly refused to rule out suspending Parliament to force No Deal Brexit

Boris Johnson (pictured at Tory hustings in London last night) has repeatedly refused to rule out suspending Parliament to force No Deal Brexit

Boris Johnson (pictured at Tory hustings in London last night) has repeatedly refused to rule out suspending Parliament to force No Deal Brexit

The latest Commons Brexit clash was teed up when the Lords passed amendments to new laws on Northern Ireland yesterday.

Labour joined Liberal Democrats and leading independent crossbenchers in the upper house to try to scupper what opposition peers branded a ‘constitutional outrage’.

The change to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill would require progress reports on restoring devolved government in the province to be debated regularly in Parliament, effectively preventing it being prorogued.

There are also rumours swirling that Tory rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve could resurrect a more binding amendment that was previously rejected – with Speaker John Bercow potentially ready to accept it as within scope of the Bill.

The move comes amid reports that some ministers could resign in order to back efforts to block no-deal if a free vote on the issue is not offered by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Front runner for the Tory leadership Boris Johnson again refused at the final campaign hustings on Wednesday to rule out proroguing – suspending – Parliament in order to meet his red line of getting the UK out of the EU by October 31.

Rival for Number 10 Jeremy Hunt has insisted he would not use such a constitutional manoeuvre to force EU withdrawal.

The amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill builds on an amendment passed in the Commons last week, when MPs backed a proposal from the pro-European Tory Dominic Grieve calling for fortnightly reports from the Government on the efforts to restore the power-sharing executive.

The new Lords amendment would ensure these have to be debated in the weeks before the Brexit deadline.

The Bill could theoretically make it illegal for the Government to prorogue parliament in the autumn if the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland has not been restored.

There are rumours swirling that Tory rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve (pictured) could resurrect a more binding amendment that was previously rejected

There are rumours swirling that Tory rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve (pictured) could resurrect a more binding amendment that was previously rejected

There are rumours swirling that Tory rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve (pictured) could resurrect a more binding amendment that was previously rejected

Mr Gauke said proroguing Parliament would be ‘outrageous’ but did not confirm whether he would back measures seeking to block it.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I will have to see what the precise amendments are and we’re hearing what the whipping will be and the arguments for that so I’m not in a position to necessarily say.

‘But what I would say is the idea that Parliament should be suspended in October – a period where it always sits, Parliament has always in recent years sat at that time of year.

‘And at a crucial point in this country’s history if you like that Parliament should not be able to sit, should not be able to express its opinion and its will, I think would be outrageous.

‘I very much doubt that any prime minister would in fact suspend Parliament in these circumstances but I can understand the concerns that a lot of my colleagues have.’

 

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