Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he would be prepared to leave the EU without a deal if no further negotiation on a withdrawal agreement are successful. Writing for ITV, Mr Peston said officials in Brussels and in other European capitals held the belief that MPs would not be able to stop Mr Johnson if he pushed forward with no deal. Mr Peston wrote: “Here is the fundamental reason why a no deal Brexit is now overwhelmingly likely: senior officials in Brussels and in European capitals tell me that there is no basis for negotiating a new Brexit settlement with Johnson – which is almost a truism – and that broadly the choices are between a near facsimile of May’s settlement, remaining in the EU or a no-deal Brexit.”
He explained: “’The case is hopeless,’ said one – whose corollary, for better or worse, is that Boris Johnson’s no-ifs-or-buts, do-or-die Brexit may be a locomotive on which the brakes have been removed.”
Mr Peston also questioned the People’s Vote campaign strategy, writing: “I am mildly surprised that the People’s Vote campaign has not reinvented itself as an umbrella organisation to coordinate anti-no deal voting in the seemingly imminent general election, rather than as cheerleader for a plebiscite that has vanished beyond the horizon.”
He explained that MPs did in theory possess the power to block a no deal exit.
But he added, in practise, this was unlikely as the Remain numbers in the Commons were still divided amongst party political lines.
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He continued: “But the reason they won’t is that – under the British Parliamentary system – the opposition is (almost by definition) a disorganised rabble.
“When I talk with those at the top of the opposition parties, I hear contradictory and confusing views – a cacophony of madness – on whether to try to legislate to force Johnson to take no-deal off the table or to vote to replace him with a unifying, anti-no deal PM.”
He added that the division of the opposition parties would play into Tory hands in a potential snap election.
Under the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, a defeat for the Government in a vote of no confidence would not directly lead to a fresh snap general election.
The Government would have 14 days to win a vote of confidence to prevent a general election.
An alternative Government could win a similar vote and enter into power without a general election.
But as Mr Peston pointed out: “The most important statement by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, on my show on the day that Johnson was crowned as PM – which weirdly feels a lifetime away but is actually less than a fortnight ago – was that Labour had absolutely zero interest in participating in a government of national unity.”
The last government to be bought down by a vote of no confidence was the James Callaghan led Labour Government in March 1979.
The last Tory Government to fall after a vote of no confidence is the one led by Stanley Baldwin which fell in January 1924.
Mr Baldwin had become Prime Minister following Andrew Bonar Law’s resignation after he was diagnosed with throat cancer in May 1923, Mr Bonar Law died the following October, just over a year after his 211 day term began.