Remainers have been working overnight to put together a new set of plans with which to prevent the Prime Minister’s promise of Brexit by Halloween.
Boris Johnson secured an early victory in the battle between the two sides yesterday when he successfully requested that the Queen prorogue parliament for five weeks, reducing the amount of time rebels have to derail his plans.
One of the plans – to block conference recess to give MPs more time to challenge Number 10 – has been rendered obsolete by the prorogation. This means that although the PM’s manoeuvre ostensibly reduced sitting time by around a week, the timetable for rebels is much harder hit.
A showdown had originally been expected for 9 September, when MPs are scheduled to debate the Northern Ireland Act. But former chancellor Philip Hammond said MPs would now have to move next week, when they return after the summer recess.
“A number of my colleagues would have preferred to wait … and move in late September. That will now not be possible,” he told reporters. “We will have to try to do something when parliament returns next week.”
As a result, backbenchers have been working through the night to produce new options in the hope of blocking a no-deal Brexit.
At least one of those routes is expected to involve fast-tracked legislative route of extending Article 50 using the recycled Cooper-Letwin bill from spring this year.
Yesterday’s move also makes a vote of no confidence (VONC) more likely, despite having been dropped by the Jeremy Corbyn-led coalition of opposition MPs when they met on Tuesday.
Other options could include a “sit-in” by MPs, with the possible support of speaker John Bercow, who yesterday slammed Johnson’s move as a “constitutional outrage”.
Labour MP Clive Lewis yesterday tweeted: “If Boris shuts down Parliament to carry out his No-Deal Brexit, I and other MPs will defend democracy. The police will have to remove us from the chamber. We will call on people to take to the streets. We will call an extraordinary session of Parliament.”
But having been blindsided by Johnson and his adviser Dominic Cummings, Remainers are now keeping their cards close to their chest.
Dominic Grieve, former attorney general, told City A.M.: “Things have changed but I don’t intend to tell the Prime Minister what we are about to do.
“Everything has to be adapted to the circumstance, so yes our plans have changed. But I’m not prepared to give anything away.”
Grieve said Johnson’s proroguing was “fundamentally wrong”, adding: “It’s an unconstitutional act, it’s legal but reckless and the Prime Minister should not have done it. I think he has done it to avoid scrutiny, and he will fail.”
Main image: Getty