Rudd, Hammond, Miller, the Lords: a Week of Remainer Plots to Stop Brexit

Demonstrators holding EU flags gather in Parliament Square following an anti Brexit, pro-European Union (EU) march in London on March 25, 2017, ahead of the British government's planned triggering of Article 50 next week. Britain will launch the process of leaving the European Union on March 29, setting a historic …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

With Brexiteer Boris Johnson likely to become the next prime minister, the last week has seen various groups and political figures announce measures to stop a no-deal exit.

Most of the conspiring surrounds plans to stop the prospective next prime minister proroguing (suspending) parliament in the autumn in order to prevent Remainers delaying the UK’s exit from the EU, which Mr Johnson pledges will happen on October 31st.

Remainer Rudd Vows to Stop a Johnson Prorogation

Work and Pensions secretary Amber Rudd shocked her pro-EU allies last week by dropping her long-held opposition to keeping a clean, no-deal Brexit as an option on the negotiating table. It was a move likely intended as an attempt to secure a position in Johnson’s Cabinet, following reports that the former foreign secretary is looking to purge Remainers from his top table when the next Conservative Party leader is announced in late July.

Ms Rudd told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that while she still thinks a clean break from the EU “would be bad for the economy, security, and the union”, she now no longer sees a second referendum as preferable to no deal, saying: “We now need to allow no-deal to be part of the leverage to make sure that people compromise more.”

However, she added that she believed proroguing parliament would be a “mistake” and she would “use my own tactics to try and stop that happening, and I encourage anyone else to consider their own version as well”.

Hammond Vows to Battle Boris from Backbenches

Mr Hammond is widely expected to be replaced in a Johnson Cabinet, with The Times learning on Sunday that the chancellor is planning to battle a clean break from the backbench.

A source present at a speech given by the chancellor to civil servants last week told the newspaper that Mr Hammond said: “Parliament is going to be where the action is, and I will be there on the back benches.”

As a parting gift, he advised the Treasury to “not change its advice on Brexit”, to which the civil servants — career bureaucrats who Brexiteers accuse of being inherently pro-Remain — responded by giving “a huge round of applause”.

Speaking on Panorama, Hammond claimed that a no-deal Brexit would leave the UK at the mercy of French president Emmanuel Macron, an assertion branded “complete nonsense” by Conservative MP for Dover, Charlie Elphicke.

Gina Miller Prepares for Second Court Case Against Government

Anti-Brexit campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller told Sky News on Sunday that she has instructed her lawyers to serve notice on Mr Johnson should he attempt to prorogue parliament.

Ms Miller, who won a High Court battle forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to consult parliament before triggering Article 50 — the legal mechanism for leaving the EU — in 2017, told the broadcaster that to suspend parliament would be an “abuse of power”, adding: “I think any form of Brexit would diminish us as a country.”

Unelected Lords and Labour’s Frontbench Plot to Back Grieve

Last week, Tory MP Dominic Grieve, an instrumental figure in backing legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit, put forward an amendment that would make it harder to suspend parliament, the amendment passing on Wednesday by one vote.

On Friday, the Labour frontbench collaborated with a cross-party group of peers in the upper house to strengthen the measures in a vote set to take place this week.

The Grieve amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill would force MPs to produce a fortnightly report on progress on restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland, but the cross-party Lords aim to force MPs to return to the house and debate the reports in the autumn, effectively creating a block to shutting down parliament. The bill is set to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday before it returns to the Commons.

Major Threatens to Take Johnson to Court for Proroguing Parliament — Despite Having Suspended Parliament Himself

Ms Miller is not the only person considering legal action to stop Johnson suspending parliament so that Brexit can go through by its rescheduled time. On Thursday, former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major said that he would seek a judicial review to stop Johnson.

“I think the idea of proroguing parliament is utterly and totally unacceptable from any British parliamentarian or democrat. I for one would be prepared to go and seek judicial review to prevent parliament being bypassed,” Sir John told the BBC.

Many were quick to point out Major’s hypocrisy, given that he prorogued parliament in 1997 to suspend the publication of the “cash for questions” scandal report, of which his government was involved.

Labour Betrays Brexit Heartland and Backs Second Referendum, Remain

Another threat to the UK leaving the EU is the Labour Party, hitherto fractured over its position on Brexit, coalescing around a pro-EU position. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn announced on the 9th of July that the party would back a second referendum — or ‘confirmatory vote’ on a Brexit deal — and in the event, campaign for Remain.

The move was deemed a betrayal of the five million Labour voters in the English north and midlands and in Wales who voted Leave, with the party ripping up its 2017 manifesto pledge to respect the outcome of the referendum.

Writing for the Express on Sunday, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said that Labour had “signed its own death warrant in the Leave-voting regions”, saying that the party’s “betrayal of Brexit” would result in Labour Leavers turning to Farage.

Thirty Remainer Tories Conspire Against the Next Prime Minister

On July 8th,  Sam Gyimah MP said that there were “30-plus” Conservative MPs working  “stop the new prime minister from proroguing parliament to deliver no deal”, with a number exploring “legislative mechanisms” to force an alternative to leaving the EU by the government’s now third promised departure date.

Others believed to be in the group include Mr Hammond, business secretary Greg Clark, Ms Rudd, and justice secretary David Gauke. As mentioned above, Hammond has already committed himself to fighting a no-deal from the backbenches, with Ms Rudd having been a “key driver” in the team “trying to find a Parliamentary and a legal solution to preventing a No Deal”, a source told The Sun.

The tabloid reported that Rudd had since been ejected from the group following her change of position on no-deal Brexit, with the source saying: “How much can you trust her now she’s trying to play to both sides?”

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