Chancellor Hammond warned that the Commons would find a way of blocking no deal
The Chancellor issued a threat to the Tory leadership frontrunner that Parliament would find a way to block a no deal exit from the EU. Around 30 Remainer rebels have met three times in recent weeks, including in Mr Hammond’s Commons office, to cook up plans. Cabinet ministers David Lidington and David Gauke are among those involved in the scheming. Mr Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal and has refused to rule out suspending Parliament to force through the move. He dismissed the threats to block no deal as a “red herring” during a leadership hustings in Darlington. “I think this is all a bit of a red herring. We are facing an existential crisis as a party and indeed as a political class,” he said.
“It was a clear, clear majority for Leave. Now we are at a state where MPs seem still to be refusing to enact the mandate of the people. That is why our great party is languishing in the polls.
“If we get on and do Brexit we will spike the guns of both the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party who are prospering at our expense because of our failure to get this done.”
Former Brexit minister David Jones accused the group of being “anti-democratic”.
He said: “It’s about time that people such as this started to recognise that the people and the party both want to leave the EU and politicians who try to frustrate that are going to be thought to be obstructive and anti-democratic.”
Leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has said he will only pursue no deal “in extremis” but is flexible about the exit date.
Jeremy Hunt said he will only pursue no deal “in extremis”, but is flexible about the date we leave
Mr Hammond said it was “clear” the Commons did not support leaving without an EU divorce agreement.
“It would be, frankly, rather shocking if the House of Commons – the elected representatives of the people – could be simply sidelined by a Government that was doing something that was the exact opposite of what the House of Commons clearly wanted done,” he said.
Mr Hammond warned he would continue to argue against no deal from the backbenches when the next leader is installed.
He insisted Commons Speaker John Bercow had made it clear that MPs will be able to block leaving without an agreement in place.
“I’m quite confident the House of Commons will find a way and, indeed, should be able to find a way because this is parliamentary democracy,” he told the BBC.
Commons Speaker John Bercow has said MPs will be able to block no deal should they wish to
The Remainer group wants to secure a date in October when MPs will seize control of the Commons agenda to force through legislation blocking no deal.
Mr Gauke has ruled out working under Mr Johnson if he wins the leadership race. He said Mr Bercow is an “activist Speaker” and insisted “a way will be found” to stop no deal.
The Justice Secretary said the next Prime Minister would then have to decide whether to take the “risky” decision to hold a snap general election to seek a fresh mandate from voters and change the numbers in Commons.
“That is a very difficult choice, particularly if your language has been so strong about we will definitely do or die have left the European Union on October 31,” he said.
It comes as pro-EU parties struck an electoral pact to try to seize a Welsh seat from the Conservatives in a by-election in August.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said his party would not field a candidate and instead support Liberal Democrats, who have previously held the Brecon and Radnorshire seat, in order to “avoid a disastrous Brexit”.
If they win, it will cut the government’s majority to just three. A number of Conservative MPs are already preparing for an autumn election.
Tory backbencher Gillian Keegan said there was a scenario where an election could be called in early October and she is now reviewing her campaign structures.
“There are a lot of people who think there will be an autumn election,” she added.
Mr Hunt has insisted he will not hold a general election until Brexit has been delivered over fears it would open the door a hard-left government under Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Johnson however dismissed the claims to block no deal as a “red herring”
He will warn young voters today that the Labour leader will leave them worse off with “buy now, pay tomorrow” pledges.
“Young people in Britain are amongst the most entrepreneurial and hard-working people in Britain,” he will tell the Young Conservatives Conference in Nottingham.
“They bring creativity and energy to the economy, and are quite savvy enough to see through fake spending promises.
“Corbyn’s buy now, pay tomorrow, pledges will sell young people down the river.
“Labour policies are eye catching today, but eye watering in the future when they boomerang back at young people with fewer jobs and higher taxes.”