MPs are threatening to block Cabinet ministers’ salaries if the Government ignores the Commons and allows a no-deal Brexit, it was revealed today.
Writing in tonight’s Standard, former minister Chris Leslie says Parliament must “show its teeth” to force ministers to take heed of the majority of MPs opposing a no-deal exit from the EU.
The warning came as dredgers began work in Ramsgate under emergency plans to upgrade the Kent harbour into a freight port if the Prime Minister’s deal fails to get through.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay this morning talked up the risk of a no-deal departure, saying it will be “far more likely” if MPs refuse to support Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, which is due to be voted on in the week beginning January 14.
Mr Barclay was due to chair a meeting in Whitehall of junior ministers responsible for emergency planning, and also announced that information packs would start going out shortly to the public on how to cope.
The Prime Minister was back at No 10 this morning after spending her Christmas break phoning EU leaders in the hope of securing a “clarification” to the controversial backstop plan that has provoked a major rebellion by Tory MPs and her DUP allies.
Mrs May spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Christmas Eve, and again yesterday, but sources played down the chances of a breakthrough in time for next week’s debate.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve warned against any further delay to the vote, saying: “It’s only when we have resolved the acceptability or otherwise of this deal that we can properly decide on other options. There is no evidence that the deal is any different to what the Government put forward in December.”
The idea of postponing the vote was pressed by David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, who argued in The Daily Telegraph that “the more we prepare to leave the EU without a deal, the more likely a good deal becomes.”
Mr Leslie, a former shadow chancellor, said there would be guerilla warfare in the Commons if Mrs May tried to “play for time” after being defeated and refused to let Parliament explore alternative plans such as a second referendum. “If ministers show contempt for Commons resolutions, MPs should simply refuse to supply the money to pay all ministerial salaries,” he said. “And that would be just the start. It is time for Parliament to show its teeth.”