The Remain coalition is allegedly meeting on Monday to plot a way to induce UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a Brexit extension as early as this weekend, reports The Telegraph.
It is claimed that the Opposition alliance will meet in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office to discuss amending the legislation to bring forward the date to 5 October when the Prime Minister legally has to ask Brussels to extend Article 50.
Corbyn is set to meet with Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, and representatives of Plaid Cymru, the Greens and the Independent Group for Change in his office at 1:30 this afternoon.
Speaking of Boris Johnson and his determination to deliver Brexit at any cost, Ian Blackford said the SNP would back “anything that tries to close down his ability” to defy the so-called Benn Act, which puts the Prime Minister under a legal obligation to request an extension on 19 October if he has not agreed upon a Brexit deal by then.
“All of us have got to work together. I’m not precious. Everyone is much more aware of what he is capable of. There is no doubt that he will seek to frustrate the legislation in place as we head towards the second half of October,” the publication quotes Blackford as saying.
A senior Labour source said of the plan:
“We are looking at every mechanism and additional legal safeguard against no-deal.”
The move is said to be triggered by the belief that the current deadline of 19 October offers little time for a court challenge to avert a no-deal Brexit on 31 October if Boris Johnson defies the law and refuses to ask for an extension.
For their plan to work, the opposition parties will need to have control of all parliamentary business and then table a one-line bill which would amend the Benn Act.
Even if their ploy fell through, it would wreak disruption against the backdrop of the Conservative Party’s ongoing annual conference in Manchester, launched under the “Get Brexit Done” slogan, with MPs and ministers obliged to hurry back to Westminster to vote.
“Compromise candidate” debacle foils confidence vote in PM
Reports of the secret plan emerged on Sunday, after the opposition parties failed to agree on holding a confidence vote in the Prime Minister.
The SNP had tried to persuade the Lib Dems to support a confidence vote in the Prime Minister which would have either triggered a general election or put Corbyn in Downing Street if Johnson lost.
However, the Lib Dems insisted on a compromise candidate such as former foreign secretary Dame Margaret Beckett to become caretaker prime minister.
As a Labour MP, she could command the support of Labour and was seen as able to solicit support from the 21 Tory rebels who have lost the whip.
According to the plan, Dame Margaret would have agreed to stay in Downing Street for two months to ask Brussels for an Article 50 extension, and then called an election once no deal had been avoided.
But Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn refused to accept that anyone else could take on the role, as a Labour source said:
“It is the role of the Leader of the Opposition to form a government in the event of a no-confidence vote in a prime minister.”
Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit
It also reportedly emerged that Boris Johnson, who has stuck to his “do or die” pledge to leave the EU by 31 October with or without a deal, plans to prorogue Parliament a second time in order to press ahead with plans for a Queen’s Speech on 14 October.
A defiant Johnson has been hoping to use his Tory conference platform to attack Parliament for attempting to thwart his negotiating strategy on Brexit, reported The Guardian.
The conference opened just days after the Supreme Court’s ruling that Boris Johnson’s five-week suspension of Parliament was unlawful, and the order was "void and of no effect".
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have lost their majority in Parliament, with divisions over Brexit inflaming both sides of the political divide, Johnson has hinted that losing a no confidence vote would give him the general election he’s been “burning to fight”.
Questioned on BBC’s One’s Andrew Marr show, on whether he wants to win or lose a no confidence vote, Johnson noted he twice offered Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a general election but both times was rejected as the Remain MP said the priority is to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Britain is not scheduled to hold an election until 2022, but one is expected in the coming months.