A Leaked Motion From Rebel MPs To Block A No-Deal Brexit Reveals They Plan To Push The New Law Through In Just A Few Hours

    BuzzFeed News has been leaked a draft of the motion drawn up by Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve, and Keir Starmer to force the prime minister to the EU to ask for a Brexit extension if he doesn’t have a deal before Oct. 31.

    Toby Melville / Reuters

    Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer.

    Rebel MPs led by Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve, and Keir Starmer will attempt to rush legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit through Parliament in just a few hours, according to a draft version of their motion leaked to BuzzFeed News.

    In a manoeuvre that would be far bolder and more radical than the one that allowed MPs to take control of the order paper in April, the draft motion would give the House of Commons just hours to pass the law and make it difficult for MPs to table considered amendments, either to the motion or to the legislation to block no-deal.

    BuzzFeed News understands the rebels have been divided on whether to attempt to pass the motion and legislation in one day on Tuesday, or over two days on Tuesday and Wednesday. A source said some MPs want to get the bill through Parliament over one day in order to hamper government efforts to block the legislation. Another source said it was likely to clear Parliament on Wednesday.

    When MPs last took control of the order paper in April, they were given an opportunity to put forward their own plans for how to use the time they had granted themselves. In addition, the bill they advanced was passed over two days.

    A rebel source close to those working on the plan told BuzzFeed News that simple bills can go through all Commons stages in a single day. Starmer said on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the proposal was a “simple plan”.

    The source denied their plan to rush through legislation was anti-democratic. “Unlike Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, we want Parliament to be involved in this process and to have the final say. It is called democracy. The only anti-democratic plan is the one being considered inside Number 10 to force through a no deal against the will of Parliament and without allowing any MP to vote on it,” they said.

    A spokesperson for Starmer said they did not comment on leaks.

    The draft motion, which contains 19 clauses and could change substantially by the time it is tabled, outlines the plan to move a motion at an emergency debate on Tuesday. If passed, it would allow MPs opposed to no-deal to seize control of the House of Commons from the government and then pass legislation in the Commons within hours.

    The rebel MPs would then immediately take control of the Commons chamber and advance a piece of legislation that is expected to be entitled the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill.

    The bill would require Boris Johnson to seek an extension from the EU if he has not agreed a new deal with Brussels by a certain date in October.

    This is in line with the last attempt by Labour’s Yvette Cooper to mandate former prime minister Theresa May to seek an extension to Article 50 back in April. That bill was No. 5.

    The draft motion allows MPs to propose amendments to the bill with pen and paper by submitting them to the clerks sitting at the central table within the chamber, but it will be difficult to make considered amendments to either the motion alongside the emergency debate or the legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit.

    Simon Dawson / Reuters

    Tory MP Oliver Letwin

    BuzzFeed News is told the motion has been drafted in this way because rebels fear that they do not have enough time to prevent Brexiteers from filibustering the legislation in the Lords.

    A rebel source said that very few rebels have been involved in the plan to seize the Commons on Tuesday.

    Letwin has been working with a close-knit group, including the Clerk of Bills in the Commons, Starmer, and Grieve. Letwin and Grieve did not respond to requests for comment.

    The procedures of Parliament might not determine the outcome of the next few days. Downing Street confirmed on Sunday night that any rebels — including former senior Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond and David Gauke — will have the whip withdrawn if they do not vote with the government on Tuesday and be barred from standing as Conservative candidates at the next election. This includes any Tory MP who abstains on Tuesday’s motion.

    Alex Wickham is a senior reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Alex Wickham at alex.wickham@buzzfeed.com.

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