CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has told MPs that he is determined to do everything in his power to stop the ‘catastrophe’ of a no-deal exit by staging a sit-in to stop the expected Tory PM, Boris Johnson, from shutting down parliament to ram through a no-deal Brexit.
Hammond has told colleagues that Commons Speaker John Bercow and Opposition MPs are likely to insist on carrying on their duties as normal even if the new prime minister attempts to ‘prorogue’ parliament, creating a crisis of who runs the UK the like of which has not been seen since the 1640s and the Cromwellian revolution.
Johnson has refused to rule out closing down the House of Commons and Lords if they look like preventing his pledge to get the UK out of the EU by October 31.
Chancellor Hammond is expected to be ousted once Johnson takes over from Theresa May later this month and is already planning his next moves.
One former minister said: ‘Philip will be the leader of the rebel group once he gets sacked.’
He will have the support of the Watson wing of the Labour Party.
Prorogation is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of parliament and the state opening of parliament that begins the next session.
The plan is for Speaker John Bercow to refuse to leave his chair to maintain the ‘Remain’ parliament.
But Hammond has told colleagues that he expects that under a contested prorogation the government could vacate its benches in the Commons but the Opposition and rebel Tory MPs will still turn up.
Bercow would remain in the Speaker’s chair on the grounds that he is enabling the will of the House, he suggested.
Rebel MPs could then stage a ‘sit-in’ in the Commons, and the Speaker and the Serjeant at Arms who are in charge of doorkeepers and security could order Parliament’s doors to be locked unilaterally.
On ITV’s Peston programme this week, Hammond made plain his own outright opposition to the idea of prorogation.
‘The idea that elected Members of Parliament will be locked out of their place of work because they might do their job is truly shocking.
‘I think there’s a group of Members of Parliament who feel very, very strongly about this, and they will be mostly people who are very anti-no deal, but there will be parliamentarians of all views who feel that the use of prorogation as a way of avoiding parliamentary scrutiny is just completely unacceptable.’
Meanwhile, MPs led by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve have tabled an amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill.
If passed, the amendment would force the House of Commons to sit on a series of dates leading up to December.
It would give MPs at least one day in October to legislate against a no-deal exit on October 31.
House of Commons speaker John Bercow will decide whether to select the amendment on Tuesday morning before MPs vote later in the day.
An attempt to occupy the House of Commons to prevent leaving the EU will be contested by millions of workers who may well decide to march on the House of Commons and close it down.