Government ‘should shut down parliament’ if MPs delay Brexit, says Jacob Rees-Mogg | Politics News
A top Brexiteer has claimed the government should shut down parliament if MPs are successful with an attempt to make a “no-deal” departure from the EU impossible.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chair of the European Research Group of Conservative eurosceptics, suggested ministers should “prorogue” parliament if a cross-party effort to thwart a “no-deal” Brexit prospers.
He recommended the drastic action amid the deepening guerrilla warfare in the House of Commons between Brexiteer MPs and those looking for ways to delay the UK’s exit from the EU.
Next Tuesday, the House of Commons will debate and vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan B, after her withdrawal agreement with the EU was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs last week.
A series of amendments have been tabled to Mrs May’s “next steps” on Brexit, with one aimed at preventing the UK leaving the EU without a divorce deal.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper and former Tory minister Nick Boles are spearheading an attempt to compel the prime minister to delay Brexit until 2020 if she cannot get a withdrawal agreement through the Commons by 26 February.
Under existing legislation, the UK is set to depart the EU on 29 March.
But Ms Cooper and Mr Boles want to postpone the exit day until 31 December, if Mrs May doesn’t meet their deadline for passing a Brexit deal.
In order to put their proposals into law, Ms Cooper and Mr Boles will pursue an attempt for backbench MPs to take control of the agenda of the Commons in order to pass a bill legislating for their plan.
Under parliamentary convention, it is solely the government that determines the business of the Commons.
Labour have suggested they could formally support Ms Cooper’s and Mr Boles’ efforts, increasing the likelihood of the the plan being successful.
However, setting out how the government could respond to the MP’s proposals coming to fruition, Mr Rees-Mogg recommended a radical response.
He claimed, if the Cooper-Boles bill was passed, then “the government should prorogue” because if it did not it was “allowing the opposition to Brexit to win”.
“If the House of Commons undermines our basic constitutional conventions then the executive is entitled to use other vestigial constitutional means to stop it,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.
“By which I basically mean prorogation. And prorogation normally lasts for three days but any law that is in the process before prorogation falls.
“And I think that would be the government’s answer, that is the government’s backstop.”
Prorogation is the term for the formal end of a parliamentary session and – in modern times – has usually been followed by the opening of a new session a few days later.
Any bills which have been introduced in the closing session – but have not yet been passed into law by receiving royal assent – usually expire and the government or MPs supporting those bills then have to introduce them in the next session if they wish for them to proceed.
The current parliamentary session began following the 2017 snap general election.
In response to Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments, Mr Boles – who has been criticised by Leave-supporting MPs for his efforts to prevent a no-deal Brexit – tweeted: “Yesterday they said the PM should instruct the Queen not to sign a bill that had received the approval of a majority of MPs and the Upper House.
“Today they want her to prorogue Parliament. I thought I was the one organising a coup.”