The former minister, who has been behind a series of failed cross-party moves to block a no-deal departure, said he could not think of any further parliamentary opportunity to intervene before Britain is due to leave on October 31. His belated admission came after the Commons narrowly voted on Wednesday to reject a Labour motion, backed by other opposition parties, which would have enabled MPs to take control of the business of the House on June 25. If it had passed, it would have given MPs the opportunity to table legislation with a view to stopping no deal.
Following the vote, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would continue to look for other mechanisms for Parliament to prevent a no deal.
However, Sir Oliver said he could not think how, under Commons rules, that could be achieved unless the next prime minister chose to give MPs the opportunity to have a say.
“Under the Article 50 process, on October 31 the UK leaves the EU regardless of whether we do or don’t have a deal in place unless somebody does something to alter that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“If the Government doesn’t bring something before Parliament, Parliament won’t have a chance to take a view on that as things currently stand because we have run out of all the possibilities any of us can, at the moment anyway, think of for Parliament to be able to insist on having a view.
“I have really struggled very hard to think of every available opportunity and I can’t currently think of any more.”
Labour sources have indicated that they could consider calling a vote of confidence in the Government in the hope of attracting the support of rebel Tories determined to prevent no deal.
However Sir Oliver, who was one of 10 Conservative MPs to vote for the motion on Wednesday, suggested that was unlikely to happen.
“Evidently that is not something which any of us want to do. I have to say I am not confident as things stand the current Labour leadership would know how to solve this crisis either,” he said.
Former Conservative MP Nick Boles, who flew back to the UK to vote with Labour on Wednesday, also conceded that opponents of a no-deal departure were fast running out of options, apart from a confidence vote to bring down the government.
He said: “No-deal Brexit on 31 October is back to being a racing certainty. It is very hard to see where any further legislative opportunities will come from. So it’s now a question of politics – specifically whether a PM pursuing a no-deal Brexit can command and sustain the confidence of the House of Commons.”
Tory Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen said: “The Conservative Parliamentary Party is such a broad church that some of my colleagues appear to be no longer in the church. They are outside in the graveyard and seem intent on burying themselves and our Party. I would put Oliver Letwin right in the middle of that graveyard.”