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Divisions continue over opposition parties’ Brexit strategy

BayRadio | October 8, 2019

For the last couple of weeks, groups in Parliament opposed to a no-deal Brexit have been talking – but so far, they’ve failed to agree on tactics.

Last week, it was a lack of consensus on who should head an emergency government if Boris Johnson can’t get a new deal and refuses to seek a Brexit extension later this month.

Labour said Jeremy Corbyn had to be emergency prime minister if the plan was to work, others didn’t.

Timing was also an issue. The SNP wanted to move right away, others didn’t. Instead, opposition parties decided to apply for a series of emergency debates designed to force ministers to publish key documents.

However, the Speaker, John Bercow, refused to grant the debates, so beyond a few meetings nothing really happened.

One attendee texted me in advance of one of those meetings with two emojis: a biscuit and a cup of coffee.

Suffice to say they didn’t think much progress was being made.

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Indeed, the disagreements appear to be getting worse rather than better if the reaction in the last few days – and after their latest meeting on Monday – is anything to go by.

Labour say the Lib Dems will be blamed if no-deal happens.

The Lib Dems say Mr Corbyn risks becoming the main block to stopping no-deal.

The SNP say Labour and the Lib Dems should stop squabbling.

Plaid Cymru are urging everyone to calm down.

It sounds a bit like general election positioning, but there’s a question big mark over whether the differences can be overcome.

On ice

Monday was originally pencilled in for a Commons ambush – the plan was to pave the way for opposition figures to take control of business from next week to pass more emergency laws on no-deal, or demand more documents in the run-up to 31 October.

But that has now been put on ice.

Sources say former Tory MPs expelled last month for refusing to back Mr Johnson’s strategy got cold feet and want to give No 10 more time to try and get a new deal with Brussels.

Those opposition figures who have been frantically trying to get all their MPs to the Commons today are less than pleased.


There are different interpretations of how much this matters.

Some opposition figures are worried Downing Street will be able to bypass legislation to stop no-deal and fear they’ve missed a chance to act.

Others are more relaxed and believe the so-called Benn Act is watertight.

We’ll only know for sure at the end of next week – and only if the prime minister fails to agree a new deal with Brussels and get it through Parliament.

Written by BayRadio

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