Opposition party leaders will attempt to force Boris Johnson into requesting a Brexit extension this week.
An anti-no-deal alliance will meet in Jeremy Corbyn’s office to discuss how they can bring forward the date on which Johnson must request a Brexit extension from the EU under the Benn Act.
The law currently says the Prime Minister must write to the EU on 19 October asking to move the Brexit date to 31 January, unless he can either pass a deal in Parliament or get MPs to approve a no-deal Brexit.
But Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson wants the deadline moved forward by a fortnight to Saturday 5 October, amid fears that the later deadline could leave too little time to take court action if Johnson tries to swerve the legislation and force through a no-deal Brexit, says Metro.
“I expect it to be discussed at the meeting. It is certainly Jo’s intention that it should,” a Lib Dem source said.
And a senior Labour source told The Telegraph: “We are looking at every mechanism and additional legal safeguard against no deal.”
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What is the plan?
Opposition parties are discussing plans to seize control of parliamentary business while the Conservatives are in Manchester at their party conference.
Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, said he would support the proposal, saying the SNP would back “anything that tries to close down [Johnson’s] ability” to defy the so-called Benn Act.
Blackford said: “All of us have got to work together. I’m not precious. Everyone is much more aware of what he is capable of. There is no doubt that he will seek to frustrate the legislation in place as we head towards the second half of October.”
Even if the vote wasn’t successful, Tory MPs would have to leave the conference and return to Westminster to vote, causing maximum disruption, says the Telegraph.
Ordinarily the Commons would not be sitting during conference season, but MPs refused to grant the Government the customary recess in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful.
How will it work?
Opposition parties would take control of Parliamentary business and table a Commons vote on a one-line bill amending the Benn Act. The amendment would require the Prime Minister to ask for a Brexit extension up to two weeks earlier than the 19 October deadline.
If opposition leaders win a majority – as they did to pass the Benn Act into law – then Johnson will be legally required to write a letter to Brussels asking for the change of date.
Johnson has insisted that the UK will leave the EU – deal or no deal – on 31 October, and has hinted that he will seek to avoid or disobey legislation requiring him to ask for an extension.