Chris White says "if MPs want to hold a vote of no confidence, they are running out of time"
Chris White has said that any MPs who want to avoid a no-deal Brexit need to act now.
In a piece written for The Times, the former specialist adviser to William Hague has pointed out that there’s only about four weeks in which parliament will sit between now and Halloween, when Britain will officially leave the EU.
Now that Boris Johnson is our prime minister, he has promised that we will be leaving at the end of October, with or without a deal. Johnson will make a statement to the Commons this Thursday (25 July) setting out his Brexit plans.
This means any MPs who want to prevent a no-deal from happening must act fast.
There have been some attempts to stop a no deal from happening, Chris wrote, but these have involved ensuring parliament cannot be suspended. This resulted in the recent defeat on Northern Ireland’s Executive Bill.
In response, Chris said:
“This would only ensure that parliament would be recalled on incredibly specific terms, to debate unamendable motions on the status of the Northern Ireland executive that, without some curious interpretation of standing orders by the Speaker, could not be used to debate or change Brexit.”
Despite this, Britain will, by default, leave the EU with no deal if needs be on 31 October. This can only be changed if MPs can get Commons debating time to pass an act where government would have to seek an extension, or, as Chris said, it will “require a change of government”.
Chris describes how the leader of the opposition has been “curiously chary” on this latter point. A lot has changed since the vote of no confidence back in January, with MPs’ opposition, defection and by-elections meaning the majority has plummeted from 19 to just two.
The former adviser has worked out that a vote of no confidence would have to be held today according to the current timetable.
It is widely accepted that an election will take place on 24 October, just before Brexit. This means a vote of no confidence would need to happen on 3 September, the first day back after summer recess. It would therefore need to be tabled this Thursday 25 July.
“If MPs want to hold a vote of no confidence, they are running out of time and working to the wrong timetable,” Chris concluded. “The last date for tabling to guarantee a change of government is today, with the debate by convention held tomorrow.”
Sharing his opinion, he added:
“It would be extraordinary for a vote of no confidence to be held on the first full day of a new PM’s term of office, and I cannot see it happening.
“Instead, the leader of the opposition’s dithering will ensure that MPs seeking to block no deal are relying on the Speaker, and uncertain and untested procedural devices, to try and change the legal default.
“As we’ve seen from the past few weeks, that has not exactly been productive.”
You can read the full article here.
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