The attempts by some members of the Government to present the decision facing Parliament on Brexit as a choice between the Brexit deal and a chaotic no deal Brexit ignore the legal and political realities that make it all but impossible to force a ‘no deal’ Brexit on a House of Commons which is clearly and overwhelmingly opposed to such a prospect.
This is the principal conclusions of “Why Voting Against the Brexit Deal Won’t Lead to No Deal”, published by the People’s Vote campaign today (Tuesday).
The report also states that attempts to resist a clear decision by the House of Commons to back a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal would also face failure if Parliament showed will and resolution in the face of an intransigent executive.
The report is being published on the day the European court’s principal legal adviser has stated that the UK does not need permission from other member states to withdraw its Article 50 notice, the report further strengthens the case for a People’s Vote giving voters a choice between the Brexit deal and staying as full members of the EU.
The report lists six ways in which Parliament could block a disastrous No Deal outcome if ministers attempted to force it through following the failure of the Government to secure endorsement of the Brexit deal.
- Amendment of the “meaningful vote” motion itself – to resist a No Deal outcome or to insist on a People’s Vote.
- Amendment of the subsequent motion which the Government are legally required to bring forward should the first motion fail.
- Another explicitly anti-No Deal or pro-People’s Vote motion.
- Amendment of other, relevant, legislation to block No Deal or enable a People’s Vote.
- Censure of the Government or individual ministers – should they continue to obstruct the will of the House they can be disposed of individually or collectively.
- If all else fails – the House can adopt the deal at the last moment so avoiding a No Deal outcome.
Commenting this morning, Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve MP QC, former Attorney General, stated:
“All the evidence I’ve picked up is that the EU would give us a reasonable period of time to hold a referendum if we wish to do so.
“If Parliament expresses a view that it wishes to have a People’s Vote then unless the Government has taken complete leave of its senses, it is possible for us to put in place the necessary procedure to hold such a referendum. And, more over, to make the necessary changes to the EU Withdrawal Act very simply to make sure that we don’t crash out on 29 March.”
In a joint foreword to the document, Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve MP QC and the former Shadow Leader of the Commons, Chris Bryant MP, state:
“The first principle to establish is that there is no majority in the House of Commons for a no deal Brexit. The main opposition parties have made clear their opposition to it.
“Recent comments by a number of Conservative ministers and backbenchers confirm the view that a majority of the Conservative Party would also reject such an outcome.
“Importantly, the Prime Minister effectively conceded that falling out of the EU with no deal is not a plausible scenario, when on 18 November she said that if MPs reject the deal they may ‘risk no Brexit at all’. The reasons for this are obvious. The Prime Minister knows perhaps better than anyone the extraordinary harm that could be done by a no deal exit. She would have to answer to the business community and to the country at large if, after two years of negotiations, she allowed Britain to simply crash out. Such an outcome is unthinkable. And it is clearly not in the interests of the Prime Minister or her Government to allow it to happen.
“The most plausible – and possibly only – alternative would be for MPs to vote to put the decision back to the people. Should the UK need more time for a People’s Vote to take place, there is little doubt that the other 27 Member States would agree the necessary extension of Article 50. Support for this is growing in the country and in Parliament, and if other options are closed down over the coming weeks, there may well soon be a parliamentary majority for it. Indeed, it could ultimately prove to be the best solution for the Government.“
Notes to Editors
The report can be read here: https://bit.ly/2rkylhh