Labour tables cross-party motion to stop new prime minister leaving EU without deal
Former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom says leaving EU at the end of October will be a ‘red line’ if she becomes prime minister
Andrea Leadsom launching her campaign in London to become Conservative party leader and prime minister. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Labour has tabled a cross-party motion to prevent a new Conservative prime minister from leaving the EU without a deal against the will of parliament. The party will seek to force a vote on Wednesday on the motion which would allow MPs to take control of the parliamentary timetable on June 25th to introduce legislation to block a no-deal Brexit.
A number of Conservative leadership candidates have promised to leave without a deal on October 31st if they cannot secure changes to the deal Theresa May negotiated with the EU.
Two candidates – Dominic Raab and Esther McVey – have threatened to shut down parliament temporarily to prevent MPs from blocking a no-deal Brexit.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said MPs could not be bystanders if the next prime minister tried to force through a no-deal Brexit.
“That’s why we are taking this latest measure to end the uncertainty and protect communities across the country. My challenge to MPs who disagree either with a no-deal Brexit or proroguing parliament is to back this motion and act in the national interest.”
Former Conservative minister Oliver Letwin said he would join opposition parties in voting for Labour’s motion. And international development secretary Rory Stewart, who launched his leadership campaign on Tuesday evening, said he could support it too.
“A proposal is now being brought forward through legislation to try to take no-deal off the table, and I believe prorogation off the table,” he said. “The first thing is, I am entirely against no-deal and entirely against prorogation.
“I haven’t read the details of this. My instinct is I would be wholly supportive of a move that tried to do that. Why? Because no-deal is not a credible threat. Nobody can get no-deal through parliament because we, including me, will stop no-deal going through parliament.”
Mr Stewart launched his campaign before an audience of 500 in a mirrored tent on the south bank of the Thames, accusing his rivals of peddling “fairy tales” about Brexit, taxation and public spending. He said Conservatives must choose between competing visions in selecting a leader who embodied the country’s pride, reputation and courage.
“The vision I want to achieve is a vision of a leader who listens, who will walk through every county in the UK, listening and walking, day by day, and sharing with you the energy that comes from prudence, the energy that comes from shame, from seriousness, from action, from conviction, the wisdom of practical judgement that provides the only path to making this a much better and much happier nation.”
Former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said leaving the EU at the end of October would be a “red line” if she became prime minister next month.
Ten candidates will be on the ballot on Thursday for the first round of voting by Conservative MPs. Further ballots next week will whittle the candidates down to two, who will go before the entire party membership.
Speaking at a lunch with political journalists, Ms Leadsom dismissed House of Commons speaker John Bercow’s suggestion that he would give MPs a chance to stop a no-deal Brexit.
“It is simply not the case that the speaker has the means to stop a no-deal exit. The law says we’re leaving at the end of October, and it is very difficult to see with a government determined to leave at the end of October how you could actually prevent that from happening.
“There is a very clear route to where the government has the executive authority to ensure Brexit happens.”