Sir John Major has said that he would seek a judicial review of any attempt to stop parliament having a say over a no-deal Brexit.
The former prime minister and Conservative leader said that there was “no conceivable justification” for Boris Johnson to attempt to “bypass parliament” to force through a no-deal Brexit.
He also said that any Tory prime minister must put the “interests of the country and its future” before the “short-term interests of the Conservative party.”
He told Radio 4 Today’s programme: “The prime minister will be bypassing parliament. That is simply unacceptable.”
He said: “I think the idea of proroguing parliament would be utterly and totally unacceptable from any British parliamentarian or democrat.
“Let’s strip away the jargon of proroguing and contemplate what it actually means. What it means that a prime minister – and it is prime minister Johnson presumably. Because he cannot persuade parliament to agree with his policy, will close down parliament so that he can bypass it until his policy comes into operation. Now nobody has done that since King Charles II in the 1640s and it didn’t end well for him and it shouldn’t end well. You cannot and should not bypass parliament in this fashion. And I cannot imagine how anyone could conceivably think that is right.”
He continued: “If that were to happen I think there would be a queue of people who would seek a judicial review.
“If that were to happen I think there would be a queue of people who would seek a judicial review.
“The Queen’s decision cannot be challenged in law, but the prime minister’s advice to the Queen can be challenged in law and I for one would be prepared to go and seek a judicial review to prevent parliament being bypassed. I served in parliament for over twenty years. I am very proud to do so, I had many admiration for our parliament tradition. I’m not going to stand by and let them disregarded in this fashion. It is utterly, utterly, and completely the wrong way to proceed.”
Asked if he thought that Boris Johnson would do it, he said: “I can only take him at his word – perhaps he is not telling the truth but that is certainly what he has said. He has repeatedly refused to rule it out.”
He added: “There is no conceivable justification, wherever we are, in closing down parliament to bypass its sovereignty. I seem to recall the Brexiteers, led by Mr Johnson, campaigned in the referendum for the sovereignty of parliament. Now if they are concerned about the sovereignty of parliament they cannot be concerned for the sovereignty of parliament except when it is inconvenient to Mr Johnson.”
On the Brexit deadline, he said it was an “artificial date that could lead to a great deal of chaos.”
“This date of the 31st of October has a great deal more to do with the election of leader of the Conservative Party than it has to do with the interests of the country and that is the wrong way round. The interests of the country must come first before the interests of the Conservative Party and before the interests of any candidate in that election.”
Re-emphasising his point, he said: “If you have to choose between what is in the interests of the country and its future, or the short-term interests of the Conservative Party then I would unhesitatingly choose the interests of the country as a whole.”