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Boris Johnson complains Remainer rebels are easing pressure on Brussels

Boris Johnson read the riot act to Remainer rebels today warning they are making a Brexit deal less likely.

The PM said the frantic efforts by MPs to block No Deal made the EU less likely to compromise on the Withdrawal Agreement.

When deciding whether to give ground, European leaders would have ‘at the back of their minds’ the idea that Brexit could still be cancelled. 

The premier also said failure to leave the EU would have ‘catastrophic’ consequences for the UK political system. 

The stark message, in a round of broadcast interviews, came after Tory rebels confirmed they have been discussing with Speaker John Bercow how they could try to bind the PM’s hands.

Mr Bercow interrupted his family holiday in Turkey to issue an extraordinary tirade at Mr Johnson for announcing that Parliament will be prorogued .

Critics have accused the premier of trying to dodge scrutiny and flout the will of MPs, but the government insists it is merely a routine procedure ahead of a new Queen’s Speech in October.  

Mr Johnson complained that MPs had already spent three years debating Brexit ‘without actually getting it over the line’.

‘I am afraid that the more our friends and partners think the at the back of their minds that Brexit could be stopped, that the UK could be kept in by Parliament, the less likely they are to give us the deal that we need,’ he told Sky News.  

Boris Johnson (pictured in No10 today) said the frantic efforts by MPs to block No Deal made the EU less likely to compromise on the Withdrawal Agreement

Boris Johnson (pictured in No10 today) said the frantic efforts by MPs to block No Deal made the EU less likely to compromise on the Withdrawal Agreement

Sir John Major today dramatically threw his weight behind a legal bid to stop Boris Johnson from suspending Parliament in the run-up to Brexit.

EU won’t insist on October 31 Brexit deadline, Gordon Brown claims 

The EU is ready to drop the October 31 Brexit deadline, Gordon Brown claimed today.  

The Labour former PM said he had spoken to European leaders and they would be prepared to extend the schedule. 

Even French president Emmanuel Macron has eased his stance, according to Mr Brown. 

Speaking at a think-tank launch, the ex-premier said:  ‘I have actually been talking to some European leaders this week. 

‘I believe that next week the European Union will withdraw the October 31st deadline and remove the excuse that Boris Johnson has, and the claim that he’s making, that it’s the European Union being inflexible in their timing, and make it possible for MPs to vote [against] No Deal.’

‘My information is that Macron no longer holds to that deadline. It was really introduced for his campaign in the European elections to make him sound tough.’ 

The former PM said he was joining a judicial review of the move that is being brought by Gina Miller. 

Sir John said it was not acceptable for Mr Johnson to prevent MPs from ‘opposing Brexit plans’. 

Remain campaigner Ms Miller has lodged the case at the High Court in London and it is being considered’, according to a judiciary spokeswoman. 

It is one of three separate legal efforts to derail the government’s strategy. 

But Conservative MP Peter Bone told MailOnline that Sir John should steer clear of the row.

‘I am afraid that John Major has descended into a Brexit mist. If he sat down and thought about it he would say this is how Parliament works. He knows that, Tom Watson knows that. 

‘But because they have got this Brexit mist where they absolutely want to keep us in the EU, all their other judgement, their normal solid judgement, has gone away.’

He added: ‘It is sad and I just hope they reconsider their position.’ 

Fellow Tory Nigel Evans accused Sir John of ‘staggering’ hypocrisy, pointing out that he himself prorogued Parliament for longer in 1997, in a move critics claimed was designed to dodge scrutiny of the cash-for-questions scandal.

The Houses were suspended 19 days earlier than was necessary before the general election, delaying the publication of a damning report. 

Gove launches £100m No Deal ad blitz  

Michael Gove will next week launch a £100million no-deal public information campaign next week with the slogan ‘Get ready’.

The campaign will feature billboards and a revamped website and is believed to be the biggest advertising drive since the Second World War.

It is meant to ensure that businesses and the public are prepared in case Britain departs the EU without an agreement on October 31.

One minister said that Downing Street had initially considered using the Vote Leave slogan, ‘Take back control’, but decided against it amid fears that it would appear too partisan.

The campaign will coincide with the first regular update at the dispatch box from Mr Gove on the state of no-deal preparations. 

‘His legacy was basically handing over the keys to No10 to a Labour PM for over a decade,’ Mr Evans said.

‘It seems to me that despite the fact he’s left Downing Street he still has the same ambition, because those are the consequences of him undermining the negotiating position of Boris Johnson.’ 

The clashes come amid frantic efforts by MPs to prevent the UK from crashing out of the EU at the end of October.

The stage is set for a huge battle next week, with the Opposition and more than a dozen Conservatives joining forces to try to bind the PM’s hands.

Meanwhile, the government has signalled it will use all measures possible to ensure the country leaves the bloc on schedule, with or without a deal. 

Tory former cabinet minister Oliver Letwin today insisted there was still time to pass legislation that could force the premier to delay the Brexit date, even if Parliament is prorogued for more than a month from the middle of September.

Sir Oliver said he hoped that by the end of next week Mr Johnson would know that he must seek an extension. He also confirmed he had been discussing the options with Speaker John Bercow. 

John Major

Simon Coveney

Sir John Major (left) today dramatically threw his weight behind a legal bid to stop Boris Johnson from suspending Parliament in the run-up to Brexit. Irish deputy Simon Coveney (right) said there was no new ‘credible’ proposal from the UK on the backstop 

Tory former cabinet minister Oliver Letwin (pictured in Westminster last week) today insisted there was still time to pass legislation that could force the premier to delay the Brexit date

Tory former cabinet minister Oliver Letwin (pictured in Westminster last week) today insisted there was still time to pass legislation that could force the premier to delay the Brexit date

The six ways Remainer MPs could try to prevent a possible No Deal Brexit

Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament has focused minds in the so-called ‘Remain Alliance’ with MPs now concentrating on how they can stop a No Deal divorce on October 31. 

They have six options:

1. Emergency debate followed by legislation: The most popular option. MPs demand a Standing Order 24 debate next Tuesday which could lead to them taking control of the Commons.

They could then crash through legislation outlawing No Deal and forcing the PM to seek a Brexit delay if no deal is done by Halloween. 

2. Vote of no confidence and an election: Probably second on MPs’ lists but incredibly risky. Should Jeremy Corbyn call and win a vote, there would then be a 14 day period in which a new government could be formed. 

However, the PM would reportedly refuse to resign in such circumstances and choose instead to go to the country early.

The difficulty for Remainers is that it would be the PM who would set the date for the poll which means he could set it for after October 31, paving the way for a No Deal split. 

3. Vote of no confidence and caretaker PM: Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred way forward would see MPs oust the PM and then install the Labour leader as the head of a temporary government tasked with securing a Brexit delay from Brussels.

Many MPs are sceptical Mr Corbyn could persuade a majority in the Commons to back him. 

4. A legal challenge: Bids urging the courts to block prorogation on the grounds it is unconstitutional are already underway.

Experts believe the chances of judges blocking the suspension are slim. 

5. A Humble Address: An arcane parliamentary device, effectively MPs would vote on asking the Queen to do something. In this case the monarch would be asked to overturn the order in favour of prorogation.

The process is complicated and extremely old. Further dragging the Queen into the Brexit row would also be seen as undesirable.

6. Resurrect Theresa May’s deal: Should the UK find itself on course for a No Deal Brexit on October 31 some believe MPs could reach for the old deal struck by Mrs May and force a vote on it. 

Given the fact it has already been defeated three times and cost the previous PM her job, this course of action would be an extraordinary twist. 

How Team Boris might try to outmaneuvre Remainer attempts to stop No Deal

In addition to yesterday’s shock move to prorogue Parliament for five weeks, Number 10 has reportedly wargamed a number of other strategies to keep the threat of No Deal alive.

1. Ask the Lords to filibuster anti-No Deal legislation. If Remainers take control of Parliamentary business they could pass a bill in the Commons outlawing No Deal. But the Act would still need to pass the Lords and receive Royal Ascent. Number 10 could get Eurosceptic allies in the upper chamber to talk down the clock on any such legislation, so Parliament rose  without the bill having become a law.

2. Creating new Leave-voting Lords to vote down any such bill. Despite enoblement being in the gift of the PM (and several recent premiers having packed the upper chamber with allies, cronies, and special advisers) this would be a hugely controversial intervention in the democratic process and is only considered a last resort.

3. Ask the Queen to withold Royal Assent. Dragging the Queen further into the Brexit standoff is undesirable but the PM could ask her not to ascent to legislation which did not emanate from Her Majesty’s Government.

4. Creating new Bank Holidays to prevent Parliament being recalled. These could be passed by Parliament relatively quickly – as long as Johnson’s wafer thin majority voted for would be an obvious tactic to prevent Parliament being recalled during the recess.

5. Artificially control the order paper – Northern Ireland debate. Downing Street could  attempt to disrupt a Commons debate on NI power-sharing scheduled to take place on September 9.  The bill is wide-ranging enough it might be legitimately amended by Remainers to achieve their ends just six weeks before Brexit – Johnson allies call it a ‘time bomb’ set for them under Theresa May’s premiership. So if they can disrupt that debate (difficult with ardent Remainer John Bercow presiding) they diffuse the timebomb,

6. Artificially control the order paper – extra debates. Alternatively the government could pack the remaining days of the session with new business which would need debates but could not be commandeered by opponents – a Budget is one such option.

7. Just don’t go. Under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act Boris Johnson could legally refuse to resign immediately upon losing a vote of no confidence, hang on for 14 days then schedule an election for after October 31. Convention dictates governments enact no major legislation in the runup to an election but Number 10 would argue the UK’s default legal position is to leave with or without a deal on October 31 and they would be letting pre-agreed action take place, not enacting new policy.

Allies of Mr Bercow have suggested he is on a ‘suicide mission’, and is ready to bend procedure rules to help Remainer MPs in the fight with the government.   

Dublin ramped up Brexit tensions today by again dismissing Mr Johnson’s call for the hated backstop to be ditched.

Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney insisted the PM had not offered a ‘credible’ alternative, and the idea of settling the issue after the UK leaves was ‘not going to fly’.

In an apparent attempt to assuage rebel Tories, Downing Street has said the UK’s team of Brexit negotiators will sit down with their EU counterparts twice a week during September ‘with the possibility of additional technical meetings, to discuss a way forward on securing a new deal’. 

But Mr Coveney told reporters in Helsinki today: ‘At the moment nothing credible has come from the British Government in the context of an alternative to the backstop.

‘If that changes, great, we will look at it in Dublin, but more importantly it can be the basis of a discussion in Brussels.

‘But it has got to be credible. It can’t simply be this notion that ‘look, we must have the backstop removed and we will solve this problem in the future negotiation’ without any credible way of doing that.

‘That’s not going to fly and it’s important that we are all honest about that.’

How an explosive week in British politics could play out 

The Brexit process reaches what could be a make-or-break stage next week as Boris Johnson and MPs engage in an extraordinary test of strength.

Tory rebels are hoping that by the end of the week they will have forced Mr Johnson to admit he must extend the October 31 deadline rather than try to leave without a deal.

But if they fail, the PM could emerge strengthened – and if they win there is mounting speculation he could opt to call an election rather than bow to their will. 


MPs and peers will start massing at Westminster on the last day of the summer recess.

Remainers are likely to be putting the final touches to their plans for taking control of Commons business and passing legislation to block No Deal.

The government will be mobilising its forces to resist, in what promises to be an unprecedented clash between the executive and the House. 


The Commons formally returns. Speaker John Bercow is likely to give his response from the chair to Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament in mid-September until October 14. He has already branded the idea a ‘constitutional outrage’.

Remainers are expected to table a request for an emergency debate under Standing Order 24. Mr Bercow is likely to approve the request, and bend procedural rules to allow them to use the time to table a business motion.

If the rebels win a crunch vote, they would be able to take control of the Commons order paper and pave the way for a short piece of legislation ordering the PM to seek a Brexit extension. 

They could also add extra sitting days, with speculation the House might sit on Friday and through the weekend. There has not been a Saturday sitting since 1982, discussing the Falklands War.

Away from Westminster, a court in Edinburgh is set to consider a legal challenge to Mr Johnson’s proroguation plan.  


Consideration of the Bill could start, potentially wiping out plans for the spending review to be presented and Mr Johnson’s first PMQs.

The Bill will need support from Tory rebels successfully to clear its Commons stages, but there appear to be more than enough willing to act to avoid No Deal.

On Thursday, the High Court in London is due to consider another judicial review of Mr Johnson’s proroguation plan, which could offer more drama. 

Former PM John Major, Remain campaigner Gina Miller and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson are among those involved in the case claiming that Mr Johnson is acting beyond his powers to silence Parliament.


The Houses are not currently due to sit, but there is a fair chance rebels will try to speed the legislative process by working through the weekend.

The Lords looks set to present the biggest challenge to rebel hopes, with Eurosceptic peers threatening a huge fillibustering effort to stop the Bill going through. 

If the law has not passed by the time the House prorogues – which could happen as early as Monday – it will be wiped out, leaving Remainers with little or no time to try again when Parliament returns in mid-October.

But if they manage to get a measure on the statute book ordering Mr Johnson to seek and accept an extension from the EU, he could opt to call an election rather than obey. October 24 is regarded by many as a possible polling day.