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Sunday shows round-up: the plot to stop no deal

1 September 2019

4:41 PM

1 September 2019

4:41 PM

Keir Starmer – Next week is our last chance to stop no deal

The Andrew Marr Show returned this week after a summer break, just before Parliament is due to sit again on Tuesday. However, with the Prime Minister set to prorogue Parliament ahead of a new session, there are only 16 sitting days left before the UK is set to leave the EU on 31st October. The Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer told Marr that MPs who opposed a no deal Brexit had to be ready to seize their moment:

KS: The Prime Minister is going to close Parliament down on Monday week… The first time that we could come back to this is probably 21st-22nd of October, which is the week before we would crash out, so this is almost certainly the last chance.

‘There has to be legislation’ to stop it

Starmer continued by telling Marr that his plan was to  draft a new law that, if passed, would stop the government in its tracks, compelling Boris Johnson to seek an extension to the deadline date if necessary:

KS: To prevent Boris Johnson taking us out of the EU without a deal on 31st October… I believe there has to be legislation in place to lock this and make it unlawful for him to take us out without a deal…

Michael Gove – ‘We will see’ about new Brexit law

However, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove argued that the opposition plans to stop Brexit were not as simple as merely passing a new law. Gove pointed to existing laws which would potentially come into conflict with Starmer’s proposed bill:

AM: For a government to say ‘We won’t abide by legislation’ is impossible, surely?

MG: We will see what the legislation says when it is put forward… We already have legislation in place, which an overwhelming majority of MPs voted for – we already have an EU Withdrawal Act [and] we already have the notice on Article 50.

‘There will be no shortages of fresh food’

Gove conceded that one of the effects of a no deal Brexit could be a rise in the prices of some foodstuffs. But he dismissed the leaked Operation Yellowhammer documents from a few weeks ago as a ‘worst case scenario’ and cautioned against ‘Project Fear’, insisting that shortages of fresh food were not on the cards:

MG: There will be no shortages of fresh food… Some prices may go up, other prices will come down… In the Spending Review that the Chancellor will bring forward later this week, we will see direct interventions in order to support families and businesses across the country.

Freedom of movement ‘as we understand it’ will end

Gove also confirmed that freedom of movement of EU citizens, a central pillar of the EU’s single market, would end in its current form. However, he sought to reassure EU citizens already resident in the UK that they were welcome to stay:

AM: Is free movement going to end on 31st October?

MG: As we understand it, yes.

AM: There are an awful lot of EU citizens who are very uncertain about their future…

MG: The EU Settled Status Scheme has been working very successfully… We have until December 2020 for EU citizens to register.

John McDonnell – Boris Johnson ‘like a dictator’

Stephen Dixon stood in for Sophy Ridge this morning, interviewing the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Unsurprisingly, McDonnell had typically harsh words for the Prime Minister over his decision to prorogue Parliament:

JM: Like a dictator, what Boris Johnson is doing is saying ‘I’m going to close down Parliament because Parliament might vote against me’. We can’t accept that. Just imagine if Jeremy Corbyn had done that – the outrage that there would have been.

‘General election? Bring it on!’

After a series of opinion polls that have seen the Conservatives establish a clear lead over Labour, Dixon put the point to McDonnell that forcing a fresh general election was not in Labour’s interests. McDonnell disagreed:

SD: You don’t want a general election really, do you?

JM: Message to Boris Johnson: General election? Bring it on! At the last general election, we were 24 points behind, and we virtually drew level with the Conservatives. If he wants to [have] a general election, bring it about.

David Gauke – I will meet Boris Johnson tomorrow

The former Justice Secretary David Gauke, who is strongly opposed to a no deal Brexit, confirmed reports that he and other former cabinet ministers would be meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday to discuss their concerns:

DG: I want to hear from him as to what is his plan to deliver a deal… and I want to hear how he plans to deliver the legislation if we get a deal by October 31, because at the moment, frankly, I can’t see how he’s got time to do that.

I am prepared to lose the whip over Brexit

Gauke also hinted that he would be prepared to defy the government over the issue even if it meant losing the right to stand again as a Conservative MP:

DG: Sometimes there is a point where you have to judge between your own personal interests and the national interests, and the national interest has to come first. But I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Alok Sharma – Be clear whose side you’re on

But the International Development Secretary Alok Sharma had a message for Gauke and other potential Conservative rebels, some of whom have been labelled ‘The Gaukeward Squad’:

AS: What I would say to my colleagues is that actually, siding with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, they need to reflect very clearly on what these people want. They do not want a delay in Brexit, they want to frustrate Brexit… You need to be very clear whose side you’re on.

Layla Moran – We have to consider revoking Article 50

And finally, the Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran outlined her party’s resolutely anti-Brexit position:

LM: We stand by our ‘stop Brexit’ stance, but we do that via a people’s vote – that’s step 1. But if we can’t achieve that, then step 2 has to be a general election before we leave… If we can’t get that, we have to… consider revoking Article 50.


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