No-deal Brexit delay bill to become law as PM ‘impeachment’ floated

A law forcing Boris Johnson to try to avoid a no-deal Brexit is coming into force today, as some MPs consider trying to impeach him.

The bill which sparked a large split in the Conservative Party last week will be rubber stamped by the Queen later today.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar will also welcome Mr Johnson to Dublin this morning in a move he has downplayed as not a “high-stakes meeting”.

Leo Varadkar
Image: Leo Varadkar said it was ‘very optimistic’ to say negotiations were taking place

Back home, fallout could continue following Amber Rudd’s resignation from the Cabinet and Conservative whip.

Opposition parties will likely discuss how to force Mr Johnson to obey the legislation to avoid no-deal on 31 October, after he said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than comply with it.

But according to the Daily Telegraph, the prime minister is preparing plans to legally stop any Brexit extension.

The newspaper reported Mr Johnson’s advisers held a meeting on Sunday to counter the strategy to prevent parliament’s attempts at enforcing a three-month Brexit extension if no new deal is agreed.

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Plaid Cymru wants to use cross-party talks to float the idea of impeaching him – an arcane parliamentary mechanism, which was last successfully used in the 1800s.

It unearthed an article from Mr Johnson in 2004, where he argued in favour of Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price’s suggestion that Tony Blair be impeached.

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“He [Tony Blair] treated parliament and the public with contempt, and that is why he deserves to be impeached: that is, to be formally held to account, in the way that Adam Price suggests,” Mr Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph at the time.

“It does not mean that he would be forced to resign: only that he would have to explain himself, as Palmerston had to explain himself when he was impeached in 1848.”

Monday will also see the prime minister push for a second time for an early general election.

He tried unsuccessfully last week when the anti-no-deal legislation was rushed through both houses of parliament in three days, saying it had wrecked the UK’s negotiating position.

He will need two-thirds of MPs’ support – 434 in total – but opposition parties have already said they will vote against it again.

They want EU27 leaders to agree to delay Brexit until 31 October to January 2020 before backing an early election.

Stoke ballot counting
Image: The PM is expected to lose a second vote for an early general election

Today could also be MPs’ last day in Westminster for a while, as the government plans to suspend parliament on an as-yet unknown day this week until 14 October.

Mr Johnson’s trip to Ireland has already been overshadowed by comments from Mr Varadkar, who said on Sunday the claim Brexit negotiations are taking place was a “very optimistic assessment”.

“I don’t think it would be shared by the other 27 member governments,” he told reporters.

“I don’t expect any big breakthroughs, but I do think it’s an opportunity for us to establish a relationship.”

Brexit protesters in Westminster, London.
Image: Parliament will be suspended from some point this week until 14 October

It comes after Amber Rudd resigned as work and pensions secretary and withdrew from representing the Conservative in parliament, in protest at the 21 MPs kicked out for backing the bill to avoid no-deal last week.

She called it an act of “political vandalism”, but the foreign secretary told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday the decision to take control of parliament’s agenda was “the real vandalism to democracy”.

Dominic Raab suggested the government would “test to the limit” the law to delay no-deal and check “very carefully what it does and doesn’t require”.

He added that the government would not break the law.

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