Plot­ters pre­pare for a ‘very British coup’

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Theresa May has been warned that her gov­ern­ment ‘‘will lose its abil­ity to gov­ern’’ af­ter Down­ing Street un­cov­ered a bomb­shell plot by se­nior MPS to seize con­trol of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions and side­line the prime min­is­ter.

A cross-party group of se­nior back­benchers – in­clud­ing for­mer Tory min­is­ters – plan what one se­nior fig­ure branded a ‘‘very British coup’’ if May loses the crunch vote on her Brexit deal to­mor­row.

At least two groups of rebel MPS are plot­ting to change Com­mons rules so mo­tions pro­posed by back­benchers take prece­dence over gov­ern­ment busi­ness, up­end­ing the cen­turies-old re­la­tion­ship be­tween ex­ec­u­tive and leg­is­la­ture.

Down­ing Street be­lieves that would en­able MPS to sus­pend ar­ti­cle 50, putting Brexit on hold, and could even lead to the ref­er­en­dum re­sult be­ing over­turned – a move that would plunge the coun­try into a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis.

May’s team got wind of the plot on Thurs­day evening, local time, when one of the con­spir­a­tors – a for­mer cab­i­net min­is­ter – was overheard by the gov­ern­ment chief whip Ju­lian Smith dis­cussing the plan in the MPS’ cloak­room. He com­mis­sioned writ­ten ad­vice from le­gal ex­perts, who warned May her gov­ern­ment’s fu­ture was at stake.

Smith briefed May on Fri­day on the ex­plo­sive doc­u­ment, which says: ‘‘Such an at­tempt rep­re­sents a clear and present dan­ger to all gov­ern­ment busi­ness.

‘‘With­out con­trol of the or­der paper, the gov­ern­ment has no con­trol over the House of Com­mons and the par­lia­men­tary busi­ness and leg­is­la­tion nec­es­sary to progress gov­ern­ment poli­cies. The gov­ern­ment would lose its abil­ity to gov­ern.’’

A se­nior gov­ern­ment source said that May and her aides were ‘‘shell­shocked’’ and de­clared: ‘‘This could be game over for Brexit.’’ An­other added: ‘‘This sounds very like a very British coup – and one that has pro­found im­pli­ca­tions for democ­racy.’’

Cru­cially, Com­mons sources say the Speaker, John Bercow, is

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.