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How can MPs stop no-deal Brexit during the parliamentary showdown?

A clash between Boris Johnson’s Government and its opponents is set to make history.

Parliament is set for an extraordinary showdown (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Parliament is set for an extraordinary showdown (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent

A parliamentary showdown that could drastically alter the UK’s course is set for this week when MPs from across the political spectrum attempt to ward off a no-deal Brexit under Boris Johnson.

Few question that the coming days will mark a significant phase in the nation’s history, but what exactly is going to happen?

Here the PA news agency looks at what skirmishes are anticipated and how events may play out.

Boris Johnson faces a tumultuous week (Simon Dawson/PA)

– How can MPs legislate to prevent a no-deal exit?

Politicians wanting to scupper the PM’s plans will eagerly return to Westminster on Tuesday with the end of the summer recess.

They will attempt to seize control of the parliamentary timetable at the first opportunity.

This could be achieved through an emergency debate being sought from Commons Speaker John Bercow under the rules of standing order number 24, commonly called SO24.

Once an MP has made the request, the Speaker decides whether to put it to a vote, which would usually happen on the next day.

Typically these motions do not bind the Government, but Mr Bercow could break with convention to allow the request to take control of the Commons agenda.

Alternatively, Mr Bercow may allow MPs to vote to amend a motion as part of the mission.

Speaker John Bercow (House of Commons/PA)

– Is time of the essence?

Certainly. And the urgency has been exaggerated because of the PM’s controversial decision to suspend Parliament shortly after MPs return.

The wrangling and the clock’s ticking begins on Tuesday and politicians will have as little as 15 days sitting in the Commons before the October 31 deadline.

Legislation would need to be debated and approved by both MPs and lords, in a process that usually takes weeks but could be hurried through in as little as three days.

The Commons is not scheduled to sit on Friday, like any other week, but MPs could hold an emergency session to continue the no-deal debate.

September 9 is the earliest date Parliament can be suspended, while MPs are not due to return until October 14.

(PA Graphics)

– What exactly will MPs be voting on?

We don’t know yet, but the all important wording of the motion will be laid down on Tuesday following discussions among opposition MPs.

When asked during a press conference a day earlier, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “If you can contain your excitement for another 28 hours or so, you’ll get a fair idea of exactly what is going to be proposed in Parliament tomorrow.”

– How will Tory rebels act and will they be punished?

All eyes will be on senior Conservative rebels including Philip Hammond and David Gauke, who until Mr Johnson took office were the chancellor and justice secretary, respectively.

Along with a string of other Tories who oppose no deal, they could work with the opposition to approve the preventative legislation.

But they have been issued with a major threat: the potential demise of their political careers.

A senior source in the Tory whips office warned that rebels could have the whip withdrawn and be prevented from standing for the party in a general election.

– Will the Government be brought down?

Opposition leader Mr Corbyn said a vote of no confidence is “very much there on the table” as he pledged to “do everything we can to stop” no deal.

If the vote won the support of a majority of MPs, there would be 14 days for another government to be formed, otherwise Parliament would be dissolved and a general election triggered.

– Are there other ways the PM’s plans could be thwarted?

One threat comes from Gina Miller (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The PM faces threats from many angles, with legal challenges coming in courts across the UK.

A cross-party group of MPs and peers who want to block Parliament’s suspension will have the full hearing of their application in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the High Court will consider a judicial review request from Gina Miller, the businesswoman who successfully challenged the Government over the triggering of the Article 50 process to start the Brexit countdown.

She, too, wants to challenge Mr Johnson’s suspension of Parliament.

And in Belfast, a judicial review against the Government by a campaigner arguing that no deal could jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process is scheduled for September 16.

– And what is Mr Johnson up to?

All Tory MPs were invited to No 10 on Monday evening for a gathering. This was to follow a meeting of the Cabinet in Downing Street.

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson will appear at Prime Minister’s Questions to be grilled by MPs.

His Chancellor, Sajid Javid, is also to deliver his first spending review on Wednesday to outline Government finances for 2020/21.



From Belfast Telegraph