John Bercow would help block a no-deal Brexit, says David Gauke

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 5 July 2019 in News

David Gauke said he had no doubt "a way will be found" to prevent the UK leaving the European Union on 31 October without a withdrawal agreement in place

Image credit: PA

A leading member of the Cabinet has predicted that John Bercow will help MPs to block a no-deal Brexit.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said he had no doubt "a way will be found" to prevent the UK leaving the European Union on 31 October without a withdrawal agreement in place.

However, he insisted he would not back a no confidence motion in the government because "the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister is one that chills me even more than a no-deal Brexit".

Gauke's outspoken opposition to no-deal has made him a hate figure for hard Brexiteers, even though he voted on three occasions to leave the EU on 29 March.

Last Friday he comfortably defeated a no confidence motion brought against him by Conservative members in his constituency.

The long-serving frontbencher has joked about his prospects of being sacked by Boris Johnson - who has vowed to deliver Brexit "do or die" on 31 October - if he is elected Tory leader.

But speaking to The House magazine, he said meeting that deadline was now virtually impossible.

"If I was to speculate on it, given that we have an activist Speaker, given that there is a parliamentary majority against no deal, a way will be found," he said to block no deal.

Asked if he would support a no-confidence motion brought by Labour against a Tory government as a way of stopping no-deal, he said: "No. The reason why is that I think the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister is one that chills me even more than a no-deal Brexit. It seems to me supporting a no-confidence motion leads to a Corbyn government.

"But I do think that parliament will find other mechanisms to try to stop this from happening."

He added: "If we get ourselves trapped into the position that it’s ‘do or die’ or ‘come hell or high water’ on 31 October, I worry that there is little scope for renegotiating between now and the end of October. If there is scope for renegotiating, there is no real scope for legislating subsequently in that timeframe.

"I see it as being very hard to find a way in which we can deliver a deal that has been agreed and legislated upon by the 31st of October. When I say very hard, I mean practically impossible.

"So, I worry about that. I’ve certainly not heard a clear explanation of how that can be done or indeed how that can be done when Parliament will be determined to try to stop it."

Elsewhere in the interview, Gauke called on Johnson to explicitly rule out suspending Parliament - known as proroguing - in order to force through Brexit.

He said: "The idea of suspending Parliament because Parliament opposes a particular policy and that the only way of delivering massively important, controversial policy is by ensuring that Parliament doesn’t get to have a vote on it, would be a constitutional outrage.

"Clearly, it would be completely unacceptable for a government to behave in that way. In what would be most extraordinary circumstances, I think you would find you’d get most extraordinary responses.

“You would have the executive up against Parliament, and I think a clear majority of Parliament. There would be a large number of Conservative MPs who would consider that behaviour to be beyond the pale.

"I don’t for a moment believe that Boris Johnson would prorogue parliament. But I do think he ought to make that clear. He should provide some clarity on that."

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