Cross-party MPs attempt to block a No Deal Brexit

Yvette Cooper on the Andrew Marr show
Yvette Cooper on the Andrew Marr show
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Senior MPs from across the political spectrum are attempting to block a no-deal Brexit by rewriting crucial financial legislation and paralysing the government.

Under plans backed by former Conservative and Labour ministers, the government’s spending powers in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be severely restricted.

A separate measure backed by the Liberal Democrats and other opposition parties would also prevent ministers from collecting key taxes unless Parliament had approved its Brexit deal.

The plans take the form of two amendments to the Finance Bill, which returns to the House of Commons tomorrow and grants the Treasury the right to spend money on a no-deal Brexit. It also hands ministers wider powers, which are not defined, that could be used for emergency financial interventions in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March.

The first amendment has been tabled by former Labour cabinet minister Yvette Cooper and former Conservative education secretary Nicky Morgan. It also has the support of senior Tories Sir Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles and Sarah Wollaston, as well as Hilary Benn, the Labour chairman of the Brexit select committee.

Two members of Theresa May’s team told a Sunday newspaper that the plan could lead to “total paralysis” at the top of the government.

The second amendment, tabled by Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, would stop the Treasury from raising income tax or corporation tax unless Parliament approved a Brexit deal.

Ms Cooper said: “The risks to our economy and security from no deal are far too high and it would be irresponsible to allow it to happen. I do not believe Parliament would support no deal and ministers should rule it out now.

“Time is running out and this is too serious for brinkmanship. Parliament needs to make sure there are opportunities to stop the country reaching the cliff edge by accident. This amendment helps to do just that.”

Treasury select committee chairwoman Ms Morgan added: “Many of us have been clear that Parliament will not allow a no-deal situation to unfold, and with less than 12 weeks to go until 29 March it is time for Parliament to show our opposition to a no-deal exit.”