Battle to stop Boris: Remainer MPs launch cross-party plot to scupper a no-deal Brexit as former Foreign Secretary unveils his leadership bid TODAY with a pledge to leave the EU by Oct 31
- Boris Johnson will formally set out his stall for the leadership of his party today
- But Opposition MPs have tabled a motion to take control of Parliament and potentially pass legislation taking No Deal off the table
- Johnson has staked his leadership bid on a promise the UK will leave the UK with or without a deal on October 31
- Leadership outsiders Andrea Leadsom, Rory Stewart and Mark Harper launched their campaigns yesterday
- Michael Gove stepped up his attack on Johnson’s tax plans, calling them ‘insane’
- European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Brussels will not renegotiate the Brexit deal, regardless of who replaces Mrs May
Tory Remainers vowed to join forces with Labour in Parliament today in a bid to stop Boris Johnson pursuing a No Deal Brexit.
In a dramatic move last night, timed to coincide with Mr Johnson’s leadership launch, Jeremy Corbyn will force a Commons vote on a plan designed to make it illegal for Theresa May’s successor to take Britain out of the EU without a deal.
It comes as a poll predicted that Boris Johnson could win a majority of 140 seats in a general, assessing him the only leadership candidate capable of besting both Jeremy Cobryn on the left and Nigel Farage on the right.
The move to wrest control of Parliamentary business from the Government has the backing of former Tory Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin, as well as all the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Greens.
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart indicated he supported Parliament’s efforts to block No Deal, although he later said he would not vote for it after being warned he could face the sack.
The move follows an extraordinary decision by Commons Speaker John Bercow to allow Labour to table a Commons business motion, which would normally be the preserve of the Government.
Boris Johnson (pictured leaving his London home yesterday) will formally launch his leadership bid today as MPs muster to take his vaunted No Deal option off the table
With just one day of campaigning to go until the first round of voting to choose the new Tory leader tomorrow:
- Mr Johnson today receives another boost as he wins the backing of Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay;
- Mr Johnson’s public tally of MP backers rose to 69 – more than twice the number of his nearest rival;
- Leadership outsiders Andrea Leadsom, Rory Stewart and Mark Harper all launched their campaigns yesterday;
- Michael Gove stepped up his attack on Mr Johnson’s tax plans, calling them ‘insane’;
- European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Brussels will not renegotiate the Brexit deal, regardless of who replaces Mrs May.
- A ComRes survey commissioned by The Telegraph found 27 per cent of the public believe Johnson ‘has what it takes to be a good prime minister’ compared with 14 per cent for Jeremy Hunt in second place. Analysis of the findings suggested Mr Johnson could command a majority of 140 Commons seats with just a third of the national vote.
It came as Mrs May warned the Cabinet that Parliament would never allow her successor to take Britain out of the EU without a deal, regardless of the promises made by Mr Johnson or other leadership candidates.
Tory grandee Oliver Letwin (l) and Labour shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer are co-signatories of the motion which could deprive a future PM of the No Deal negotiating strategy
During a fractious meeting of her top team, the Prime Minister said: ‘There were as many people, if not more, on the Stop No Deal side as there were in the ERG [group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs] who would not support my deal. My successor is going to have the same problem.’
One senior Tory last night accused Mr Bercow, who has spoken out against Brexit in the past, of ‘constitutional vandalism’.
But his decision means MPs will be asked to vote on a Commons motion today which would give pro-Remain MPs control of the parliamentary timetable on June 25. Labour said MPs would then ‘have the chance to introduce legislation that could help avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal’.
The legislation is expected to focus on ruling out the option of suspending Parliament to push through No Deal, which has been floated by leadership contenders Dominic Raab and Esther McVey. But a Tory source involved in the move last night said further legislation would follow if any new PM tried to pursue a No Deal Brexit.
Boris’ leadership bid boosted by support from Brexit Secretary
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay outside Downing Street
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay last night weighed in behind Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign as the former foreign secretary pledged to take Britain out of the EU in October, come what may.
Mr Johnson will use his long-awaited campaign launch today to warn that the Conservative Party will ‘kick the bucket’ if it fails to deliver Brexit by October 31.
The odds-on favourite to succeed Theresa May will warn that ‘delay means defeat’.
Last night his campaign significant boost with the backing of Mr Barclay, the most senior Cabinet minister to date to support his bid for power.
Mr Barclay, who has responsibility for preparing the UK for a possible No Deal Brexit, said Mr Johnson was best placed to lead Britain out of the EU.
‘As Brexit Secretary I have seen first-hand the challenges the Government has faced in ensuring that we honour the result of the referendum and leave the European Union,’ he said.
‘We must leave on the October 31 – any further delays will continue to fracture public trust in not only our democratic system but also the Conservative Party.
‘We need a leader who will deliver Brexit and who has the ability to defeat both Corbyn and Farage. We also need to seize the global opportunities of Brexit and renew a sense of optimism in the potential it offers. The candidate best placed to do that is Boris Johnson and he has my full support.’
Mr Johnson, who has not given a public speech or broadcast interview since March 12, has faced criticism from rivals for avoiding scrutiny, with Michael Gove accusing him of hiding in a ‘bunker’.
But he will break his silence this morning with a campaign launch in central London, at which aides said he would take questions from the media.
He will seek to portray himself as the ‘unity’ candidate, arguing that it is only possible to unite the country and the Tory Party once the 2016 referendum verdict has been delivered.
Critics have warned that Mr Johnson is on a collision course with Parliament by refusing to countenance any further delay to Brexit.
But today he will warn that Britain will not get the best deal from Brussels if there is even the ‘slightest hint’ of delay. He will say: ‘Now is the time to unite this country and unite this society, and we cannot begin that task until we have delivered on the primary request of the people; the one big thing they have asked us to do. After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31.
‘We simply will not get a result if we give the slightest hint that we want to go on kicking the can down the road with yet more delay. Delay means defeat. Delay means Corbyn. Kick the can and we kick the bucket.
‘With every week and month that goes by in which we fail to deliver on our promise I am afraid we will further alienate not just our natural supporters but anyone who believes that politicians should deliver on their promises.’
Mr Johnson has 69 public backers among MPs. He has succeeded in winning support from both wings of the party, with pro-Remain MPs nervous about his stance on Brexit believing he represents the best chance of preventing Jeremy Corbyn ever winning power.
Today he will remind MPs that he twice defeated Mr Corbyn’s ally Ken Livingstone to become mayor of London, saying: ‘We cannot let them [Corbyn’s Labour] anywhere near Downing Street and I would remind you that the last time I faced an emanation of that Marxist cabal I defeated him when the Conservatives were 17 points behind in London. And we can do it again.’
Mr Johnson is expected to top the ballot in the first round of voting in the Tory leadership contest tomorrow.
Supporters are quietly confident that he now has the momentum to reach the final two, which will be decided by MPs next week. Party members will then choose the leader.
But aides, who have shielded him from the cameras, remain nervous that a single gaffe could yet wreck his campaign.
The source said: ‘We will start by ruling out proroguing Parliament but at a bigger level it is showing that Parliament will block No Deal.
‘We are flexing our muscles to remind Boris and anyone else that they cannot do this.’
The initiative is modelled on the successful bid by Labour’s Yvette Cooper earlier this year to change the law and force Mrs May to seek an extension to Article 50 rather than leave without a deal.
That bid passed by just one vote. But a rebel source insisted there were ‘easily enough’ Conservative MPs to push it through this time.
Ten MPs are on the ballot as Tory MPs prepare to vote on who will be their next leader
How will the Tory leader battle play out?
THURSDAY, JUNE 12
This will be another critical day, as the first ballot takes place.
Anyone with fewer than 16 votes will be automatically eliminated, and at least one will be ejected.
THURSDAY, JUNE 19
Further rounds of voting will take place during June until there are just two candidates left by this point.
They will then go to a run-off ballot of the 160,000 Tory members.
WEEK OF JULY 22
The winner is due to be declared this week.
They will take over from Mrs May as PM shortly afterwards – probably in time to take a session of PMQs before the Commons breaks up for its summer recess.
Former Tory minister Nick Boles last night said he would fly back from abroad to back the bid.
The move is also embarrassing for Mr Gove, who counts Sir Oliver among his leading supporters. Mr Gove last night described the proposals as ‘Labour’s plans’ and vowed to ‘resist them’.
He said: ‘While I would prefer to leave the EU with a better deal, we must not rule out No Deal. If ultimately it came to a choice between No Deal and no Brexit, I would choose No Deal.
‘Labour’s plans to seize control of the business of the Commons must be resisted.’
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer described the Tory debate about No Deal as ‘disturbing, ludicrous and reckless’.
He added: ‘We have witnessed candidates openly advocating a damaging No Deal Brexit and even proposing dragging the Queen into politics by asking her to shut down Parliament to achieve this.’
The move came as ministers argued over Brexit at a meeting of the Cabinet.
Government Chief Whip Julian Smith warned that Parliament could ultimately prevent a No Deal exit and would use ‘all endeavours’ to do so.
Mr Barclay called for preparations to be stepped up for a potential No Deal Brexit in October, but was slapped down by Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who said the cash would be better spent dealing with priorities like child poverty and education.
Mr Johnson is expected to say today that any further delay beyond the current Article 50 deadline of Hallowe’en would mean ‘defeat’ for the Tories at the next election.
He will say that Brexit will never be delivered if MPs give the ‘slightest hint that we want to go on kicking the can down the road’ adding in his campaign launch speech: ‘Delay means defeat.
‘Delay means Corbyn. Kick the can and we kick the bucket.’
His preferred solution is to negotiate a new Brexit deal with the EU, but the central plank of his campaign is that Britain will leave the EU by October 31 with or without a deal.