Sunday, 18 August 2019

Brexit: Corbyn seeks clarity on 'unconstitutional' election-time no-deal

Friday, 09 August 2019 13:37 Written by  font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size

Jeremy Corbyn has urged the UK's most senior civil servant to intervene to prevent a no-deal Brexit happening during a general election campaign.

The Labour leader is concerned that the UK could leave the EU on 31 October, while a campaign is ongoing and

before a new government is elected.

He has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill saying such a move would be an "anti-democratic abuse of power".

It comes amid speculation MPs will table a no-confidence motion in the PM.

It is thought opposition MPs could propose the vote in a bid to prevent the UK leaving the EU with no deal - leading to a general election being called.

Mr Johnson has a working majority in Parliament of just one.

What is a vote of no confidence?
Still time to stop no-deal, Tory Brexit rebel says
Do MPs have the power to stop a no-deal Brexit?
Is it too late to hold an election before Brexit?
The UK will leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal unless Article 50 is extended or revoked.

Mr Corbyn said his party would propose a no-confidence vote at an "appropriate" time after the Commons returned from its summer recess on 3 September.

Election rules say Parliament should be dissolved 25 working days before polling day - so some people are concerned Mr Johnson could allow a no-deal Brexit to happen while MPs are not sitting.

What happens if the PM loses?

If the PM loses the motion of no-confidence, then under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act he would have another 14 days to win a vote of confidence.

If he failed to win such a vote, then a general election would be called on a date advised on by the PM.

However, if another candidate could secure the confidence of the Commons, Mr Johnson would be expected to resign and recommend the Queen appoint that person in his place.

This could in theory lead to a temporary cross-party government, whose main aim could be to request an extension from the EU and organise an election in the meantime.

Lib Dem business spokesman Chuka Umunna said his party was willing to discuss with other parties how a no-deal Brexit might be avoided.

However he said it would be a "problem" for Jeremy Corbyn to lead an interim administration, as a "substantial minority" of Labour MPs "would not countenance" him becoming PM.

"Labour's priority is a Labour government, it isn't to stop Brexit," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

What does the government say?
On Thursday, Mr Johnson was asked whether he would resign if he lost a no-confidence vote. He responded that MPs should "honour the mandate of the people " by leaving the EU.

Mr Johnson's senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, has reportedly told MPs that losing a no-confidence vote would not stop the prime minister taking the UK out of the EU by the October 31 deadline.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that he said Mr Johnson could call an election to fall after 31 October, by which time Britain would have left.

Brexiteers say Britain's departure from the EU is already set, with Parliament having consented to Brexit when it triggered negotiations under Article 50 and passed legislation thereafter to set the deadline of 31 October.

A senior Conservative source accused Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to ignore the result of the 2016 referendum.

"No amount of letter-writing political stunts will change the fact that politicians don't get to choose which public votes they respect," the source added.

Meanwhile, the government has announced a one-year spending review to give government departments "financial certainty" as they prepare for Brexit.

Chancellor Sajid Javid said a "fast-tracked" spending round for 2020-21 would "clear the ground ahead of Brexit while delivering on people's priorities".

An 'unprecedented' move
In his letter to Sir Mark, Mr Corbyn called the possibility of calling a general election to fall after Brexit had happened "unprecedented" and "unconstitutional".

He referred to the Cabinet Office's election "purdah" guidance - which states that policy decisions on which a new government "might be expected to want to take a different view" should be postponed until after the election.

Mr Corbyn added that a Labour government would never support a no-deal Brexit, and so would "want the opportunity to take a different view".

He called on Sir Mark to rule that if the UK was due to leave the EU with no deal during an election, the government should seek another time-limited extension to Article 50.

"Forcing through no-deal against a decision of Parliament, and denying the choice to the voters in a general election already under way, would be an unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power by a prime minister elected not by the public but by a small number of unrepresentative Conservative Party members," he wrote.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said Sir Mark would respond to Mr Corbyn's letter "in due course".

Analysis
By Peter Saull, political correspondent

In the period before elections there are restrictions on what civil servants can and can't do.

The idea is to stop what is, effectively, a caretaker government from implementing decisions that the next government might disagree with.

Downing Street would probably argue that those rules don't apply to Brexit.

The UK's withdrawal from the EU has been the legal default since MPs voted to trigger Article 50 in March 2017.

Nevertheless, purdah rules could limit the government's ability to make last-minute preparations for a no-deal departure.

Ministers would not, for example, be able to instruct civil servants to start a new public information campaign.

Of course, all of this is uncharted territory and no-one knows for sure quite how it will all pan out.

Read 5 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Login to post comments
Russia says rocket explosion
Radiation levels near the site of a deadly rocket explosion
Three French children die
Three young French children drowned off the Normandy coast
Boris Johnson accuser loses
A man who took Boris Johnson to court over claims he lied
Trump targets legal migrants
US President Donald Trump's administration is to make it
Brexit: Ministers expect
The government expects a group of MPs to try to block a
UK 'first in line' for US
The UK is "first in line" for a trade deal with the US,
Norway mosque attack: Bruised
A 21-year-old Norwegian man has appeared in court in Oslo,
Brexit: Corbyn seeks clarity
Jeremy Corbyn has urged the UK's most senior civil servant

Hot News

Featured photos and videos

cache/resized/e4cb0607d53b529a943410e6fa6ebc0c.jpg
Radiation levels near the site of a deadly rocket
cache/resized/5c655f13ed08ac71cae2a07c7c3a8b1c.jpg
Three young French children drowned off the
cache/resized/79405bca408b5d3804182c067908bda7.jpg
A stage musical about Princess Diana's life is to
cache/resized/c6e02bc565346dd2f7cca6cbf68c09ba.jpg
US President Donald Trump's administration is to
cache/resized/adc5d46a574f3ab58e1ad8d35e689ccf.jpg
Jemeni separatists have taken effective control
cache/resized/de0964eba29426bc4149be25bab00c77.jpg
The UK is "first in line" for a trade deal with
cache/resized/393f511ea5380f80a04310d1f285c257.jpg
A 21-year-old Norwegian man has appeared in court
cache/resized/f6d0cd08730365afffa01d39287cb7b5.jpg
A Canadian tourist held in Syrian detention since
Template Settings

Color

For each color, the params below will give default values
Black Blue Brow Green Cyan

Body

Background Color
Text Color
Layout Style
Select menu
Google Font
Body Font-size
Body Font-family