Remainers to force three-month Brexit delay if government cannot secure a deal

PUBLISHED: 16:01 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:46 02 September 2019

John McDonnell (centre left) and Ian Blackford, sign a declaration saying they will continue to meet as an alternative House of Commons if Boris Johnson temporarily shuts down parliament to get a no-deal Brexit through, watched by Caroline Lucas (left), Jo Swinson and Liz Saville Roberts (right). Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

John McDonnell (centre left) and Ian Blackford, sign a declaration saying they will continue to meet as an alternative House of Commons if Boris Johnson temporarily shuts down parliament to get a no-deal Brexit through, watched by Caroline Lucas (left), Jo Swinson and Liz Saville Roberts (right). Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Remainer MPs have drafted a bill that would force Boris Johnson to delay Brexit until January 31 if he cannot get a deal with the EU.

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A cross-party group of Remainer MPs have published their bill detailing action they will take to stop a no-deal Brexit.

The bill, tweeted in full by MP Hilary Benn, aims to compel the prime minister to seek a three-month extension of Article 50 if he is unable to get backing for no-deal or for a new Withdrawal Agreement by October 19.

Benn tweeted: "The purpose of the bill is to ensure that the UK does not leave the European Union on the 31 October without an agreement, unless parliament consents."

He said that the bill gives the government time to either reach a new agreement with the EU or to put the no-deal question to parliament.

If this hasn't been settled by the time the European Council finishes its meetings on October 19, the bill would compel Johnson to request an extension of Article 50 to January 31 - and if the EU proposes a new date, that must be put to parliament.

Benn tweeted that the bill has cross-party support.

However, following comments made by Michael Gove, the willingness of the government to follow the law and abide by anti-no-deal legislation passed by parliament is now in question.

MORE: Michael Gove refuses to rule out government ignoring the will of parliament on no-deal bill

In anticipation of rebel plans, Johnson's cabinet is meeting to devise its strategy. An agenda for the meeting leaked to Sky News is reportedly going to tell ministers that Johnson's plan to deliver Brexit by October 31 will only work if he can thwart anti-no-deal legislation.

Number 10 is of the view that the UK's negotiating hand is weakened by taking no deal off the table.

Cabinet ministers are to be told that whatever happens in the next 10 days in parliament is "critical", reported Sky.

They will also reportedly be told that draft legal texts have been prepared for presentation to the EU arguing Johnson's position on amending the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, reports suggest that these are thin.

MORE: Government's new NI legal argument is just the Withdrawal Agreement with backstop parts 'crossed out'

Johnson expected to treat any anti-no-deal legislation as a vote of no confidence, giving him the impetus to call - and propose the date of - a general election.

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