The government has no plans to hold any debates on Brexit or an early election in the House of Commons next week, Jacob Rees-Mogg has announced.
The Commons leader made no mention of the issues – despite Britain being due to leave the EU in seven days time – during an update on parliamentary business for the following week.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has summoned a meeting of his political cabinet to 10 Downing Street at 3pm today.
Brexit is still due to happen on 31 October, with EU leaders yet to decide on how to respond to Mr Johnson’s forced request for a delay to avoid no-deal.
Despite that, Mr Rees-Mogg said instead of Brexit or an early election, MPs will next week debate the environment, talks to re-establish an executive at Stormont and the Grenfell Tower fire.
Nick Boles, the Tory-turned-independent MP, said: “The country wants us to be dealing with the Brexit bill and almost all MPs, whatever their views, want to get on with it.
“Johnson should stopping dragging his feet and wasting everyone’s time.”
Labour whip Thangam Debbonaire also tweeted: “We could be sitting tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday. We could be debating the Withdrawal Agreement Bill all week next week. And the next.
“This would give us time to debate, scrutinise and amend the bill and vote on it. But no. It’s nowhere.”
Responding to questions about the lack of any news about the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs: “Here I think the answer lies with Sir Percy Blakeney: ‘They seek it here, they seek it there, those parliamentarians seek it everywhere. Is it in heaven? Or is it in hell? That damned elusive Brexit bill’.”
There was also speculation Mr Johnson could push for another general election to break the deadlock, given he has paused a bid to turn his Brexit deal into law.
That happened after a majority of MPs backed his agreement to pass its first hurdle on the path to becoming legislation, but disagreed only three days was enough for it to complete its entire journey through the Commons.
The Tories and Labour could both be split on the issue.
James Cleverly, Conservative Party chair, did not deny cabinet ministers were divided over the issue, telling Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast that “the cabinet makes collective decisions”.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow business secretary, also refused five times to reveal whether Labour wanted an election before Christmas, only saying she wanted the threat of no-deal “off the table”.