The single-clause bill that would prevent a no deal Brexit is being tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, with the backing of senior MPs including Sir Oliver Letwin, Hilary Benn, Dame Caroline Spelman, Jack Dromey, Dominic Grieve and Norman Lamb. If passed, it would require the Prime Minister to come forward with a plan to extend article 50 for MPs to vote on. Mrs May would be able to choose how long the extension should be and, if the EU were to offer an alternative length for an extension, that would have to come back for a vote.
Leaving the EU without a deal on April 12 is the default legal option if Britain cannot present a viable alternative to EU chiefs at an emergency Brexit summit on April 10.
So far, MPs have failed to find a majority for any alternative to the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.
Ms Cooper said: “We are now in a really dangerous situation with a serious and growing risk of no-deal in 10 days’ time.
“The Prime Minister has a responsibility to prevent that happening. She needs to put forward a proposal, including saying how long an extension she thinks we need to sort things out.
“If the Government won’t act urgently, then Parliament has a responsibility to try to ensure that happens even though we are right up against the deadline.
“Parliament has tried to jam into two days a process of finding consensus that I wish the Prime Minister had started two years ago. But right now nothing has been agreed.
“So that means that whatever happens in the next few days, the UK needs an extension beyond April 12 if we are to avoid the damage and chaos of no-deal.
“For the sake of jobs, public services and our national security we need to avert no deal.”
Conservative MP Sir Oliver, who led the process of so-called indicative votes on alternative Brexit options, said: “This is a last-ditch attempt to prevent our country being exposed to the risks inherent in a no-deal exit.
“We realise this is difficult. But it is definitely worth trying.”
But not all lawmakers are in favour of the move made by the cross-party group.
Brexiteer Bill Cash told Parliament seizing control in this way was “a reprehensible procedure”.
He said: “It is unconstitutional, it is inconceivable that we should be presented with a bill which can be rammed through in one day.”
Last night the Commons voted on four possible Brexit options, selected by Speaker John Bercow, after a series of indicative votes put to Parliament last week were rejected.
The options were a customs union, a Norway-style relationship with the EU, a public vote and revoking Article 50 if a deal has not been agreed.
MPs rejected all four alternatives to Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.
But calls for a customs union after Brexit was rejected by just three votes, the closest margin yet.