Michael Gove has refused to say whether the government would abide by legislation against no-deal Brexit, if it were passed by parliament.
The minister was noncommittal when asked by Andrew Marr what the government would do in this case, saying he’d “wait to see” what the bill would say.
His refusal to commit to the will of parliament has been slammed as “a disgrace to our democracy” by Remain-supporting Tory MP Guto Bebb.
When asked by BBC’s Andrew Marr about passing such a law, Gove said: “Let’s see what the legislation says.”
Marr said: “But surely the answer has to be yes. It’s the law.”
Bills passed in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords then are presented to the Queen for royal assent. But speaking today, Gove suggested that the government would consider taking the unprecedented step of ignoring parliament’s will.
“We’ll see what the legislation says,” he said. “You’re asking me about a pig in a poke, and I will wait to see what legislation, what the opposition may try to bring forward.”
Marr pressed the issue, saying: “For a government to say we won’t abide by legislation is impossible, surely.”
Gove said “the most important thing” is the fact that “we already have an EU Withdrawal Act”, referring to the notice on Article 50.
He added that he wasn’t going to pass comment on a bill he doesn’t know anything about.
The comments come ahead of another pivotal week in the Commons and an expected clash when opponents of no deal look set to try to seize control of the parliamentary agenda to push through legislation delaying Brexit beyond October 31.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Gove’s stance was “breathtaking”.
He tweeted: “For ministers not to confirm that this government will accept and comply with legislation lawfully passed is breathtaking.
“The prime minister must make a statement on this straightaway.
“No government is above the law.”
Boris Johnson has been intensely criticised for proroguing parliament ahead of October 31, reducing parliamentary time to discuss Brexit.
The move sparked nationwide protests, and has been declared “an abuse of executive power” by constitutional experts.
IN PICTURES: Thousands take to the streets to defend democracy across the UKConservative MP Guto Bebb, who supports the People’s Vote campaign, reacted furiously to Gove’s statements.
“This government’s unprecedented willingness to flout the rules is a disgrace to our democracy.
“Not only are they suspending parliament to try and force through a disastrous no deal, but now they are suggesting that, even if parliament passed a law requiring the government to avoid no deal, they might simply ignore it. Our very democracy is now under threat from Boris Johnson and his government.
“Michael Gove recently admitted that no deal is not what he campaigned for in 2016 but now he’s willing to tear up our democratic system to force this outcome on the country, against the wishes of both parliament and the public.
“The Brexiters in government like to cloak themselves in the language of democracy, but they willingly ignore basic democratic principles as and when it suits them.
“The British people should not and will not stand for it. It’s no wonder the outrage and protests across the UK are growing larger all the time. The British people believe in democracy and fair play, and the only way to resolve the Brexit crisis is to give them the final say.”