MPs ready for summer recall if Brexit talks stall

Brexit minister David Davis listens to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: Thierry Charlier/Getty
Brexit minister David Davis listens to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: Thierry Charlier/Getty
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Pro-Remain MPs are prepared to demand that parliament is recalled early if Brexit talks suffer a summer collapse, it has been claimed.

Insiders say MPs are bracing themselves for an early return from the parliamentary recess if the next round of talks end in failure.

An SNP source said the party at Westminster would “absolutely” back Labour if the opposition demands a recall. And MPs from other parties are said to have discussed the possibility of an early return for an emergency debate on the progress of negotiations in Brussels.

Another source close to prominent Labour Remainers said MPs would have to be summoned back from their holidays and constituencies if the next round of talks reaches an impasse.

The two negotiating teams will next meet at the end of August, two weeks before the House of Commons is due to reconvene on 5 September.

“There’s a high expectation among members of parliament that we won’t go through this whole recess undisturbed, particularly if Brexit negotiations go wrong and there’s a collapse or a walkout,” the senior SNP Westminster source said.

“There’s a sense that there could well be a recall.”

The insider told Scotland on Sunday that the sudden failure of Brexit talks would constitute a “national crisis” and would require parliament to be recalled.

“I don’t think it would be a dramatic surprise if something were to go wrong. EU negotiators will be very much aware that parliament’s not sitting.”

The source added: “I think the Speaker would feel pretty strongly tempted, particularly in the context of a breakdown in Brexit talks, to allow the recall of parliament.”

Parliament can only be recalled at the request of the government, and if Commons speaker John Bercow agrees an emergency debate is in the public interest.

The EU has given until October for talks to make “sufficient progress” on the key issues of citizens’ rights, the UK’s post-Brexit financial settlement and the Northern Irish border.

Negotiations cannot move on to the issue of a vital UK-EU trade deal until the heads of 27 EU member governments approve the outcome of initial talks on those three priorities.

A European Council meeting in October has been earmarked for EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to present leaders with whatever progress has been made up until that point.

Parliament has been recalled six times in the past six years, including twice in 2013 to pay tribute following the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and to debate the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

MPs were also recalled from recess during the EU referendum campaign last year following the murder of parliamentarian Jo Cox.

The government has resisted demands for parliament to be recalled in the past, notably in August 2006 when more than 100 backbench Labour MPs called on their own ministers to hold an emergency debate on the conflict in Lebanon.

MPs left Westminster on Thursday for a summer break lasting almost seven weeks.