Com­mons ‘coup’ is dis­missed as a plot to scare MPs

Daily Express - - Race On To Save Brexit - By Sam Lis­ter Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

BREX­I­TEERS yes­ter­day ac­cused No10 of try­ing to ter­rify MPs into back­ing Theresa May’s deal after claims that Re­main­ers were be­hind a “coup” to change Com­mons rules.

Tory Chief Whip Ju­lian Smith re­port­edly over­heard a plot to over­turn par­lia­men­tary pro­ce­dures that would give back­bench mo­tions pri­or­ity over gov­ern­ment busi­ness.

Mrs May was said to have been told the move would mean the Gov­ern­ment would lose its abil­ity to gov­ern.

But Tory Leavers op­posed to the Prime Min­is­ter’s EU divorce deal dis­missed the Sun­day news­pa­per story as an at­tempt by Down­ing Street to force them into sup­port­ing the plan.

For­mer min­is­ter Mark Fran­cois said it “beg­gars be­lief” that Ju­lian Smith had just hap­pened to be pass­ing through a Com­mons cloak­room as plot­ters were dis­cussing the plans.

He claimed it was a “com­plete putup” be­cause the Gov­ern­ment was “ter­ri­fied” of los­ing the vote.

“This story has been de­lib­er­ately man­u­fac­tured by No10 to try to frighten MPs to vote for the Prime Min­is­ter’s aw­ful deal against their bet­ter in­stincts,” he said.

For­mer Cab­i­net min­is­ter Lord Lil­ley said: “It smelt to me a lit­tle of a Down­ing Street leak, of which we are go­ing to have quite a few to ter­rify col­leagues into vot­ing for this ap­palling deal.” Brex­i­teer Peter Bone said it was a “non­sense” and a gen­eral elec­tion was now “more likely”, adding: “If I was a cynic I might say the Gov­ern­ment was be­hind some of this.”

Brexit Sec­re­tary Stephen Bar­clay said there was a “grow­ing risk” that Par­lia­ment could frus­trate Brexit if changes to pro­ce­dures were made. He pointed to the row last week over how Speaker John Ber­cow had ma­nip­u­lated rules in favour of Re­main­ers.

Mr Bar­clay said: “Those on the Brex­i­teer side seek­ing ide­o­log­i­cal pu­rity with a deal are risk­ing Brexit.”

Re­main­ers have pub­lished plans to se­cure a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum. Their draft Bill would give vot­ers the op­tion be­tween re­main­ing in the EU or leav­ing un­der Mrs May’s deal.

Do­minic Grieve, the MP who se­cured the changes to pro­ce­dures that Mr Ber­cow agreed to and which led to a gov­ern­ment de­feat, is one of the or­gan­is­ers. Leg­is­la­tion could be in­tro­duced through the House of Lords.

Tory MP Char­lie El­ph­icke said it was “en­tirely un­ac­cept­able” for MPs to try to “defy the will of the peo­ple”, adding: “It’s right that we leave on March 29, deal or no deal.”

COR­BYN PLANS TO TOP­PLE GOV­ERN­MENT ‘SOON’

JEREMY Cor­byn will call a vote of no con­fi­dence in Theresa May’s gov­ern­ment within days but re­fused to say whether he would back Leave or Re­main if there was a gen­eral elec­tion.

The Labour leader said he would launch a bid to bring down the Prime Min­is­ter and force an elec­tion “soon” if the Brexit deal is re­jected on Tues­day.

“We’re cam­paign­ing for a coun­try that is brought to­gether by in­vest­ment,” he told BBC One’s The An­drew Marr Show. “We’re cam­paign­ing for a cus­toms union.”

He sug­gested the Ar­ti­cle 50 process tak­ing the UK out of the EU on March 29 should be ex­tended if there is a snap elec­tion. “There would have to be time for those ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he said.

Pic­tures: DO­MINIC LIP­IN­SKI/PA, GETTY

Cor­byn on The An­drew Marr Show Speaker Ber­cow... ‘ma­nip­u­lated rules’ Do­minic Grieve...or­gan­is­ing plan for sec­ond ref­er­en­dum

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