Labour MP Hilary Benn tweeted a copy of the proposed legislation, which is supported by MPs from across the political spectrum, including former Tory ministers Alistair Burt, Philip Hammond and David Gauke.
1/8 The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill 2019 pic.twitter.com/16cmhdRkOp
— Hilary Benn (@hilarybennmp) September 2, 2019
A cross-party group of British MPs today published a draft bill which would force the prime minister to request a three-month extension to Brexit negotiations if a deal is not agreed between the EU and the U.K. by October’s European Council.
MPs will apply to take control of the schedule of the House of Commons — which is usually set by the government in a bid to turn the private member’s bill into law.
Benn said the bill “gave the government time either to reach a new agreement with the European Union at the European Council meeting next month or to seek parliament’s specific consent to leave the EU without a deal.”
If neither condition has been met by October 19, the prime minister must send a letter to the President of the European Council requesting an extension to negotiations until 31 January 2020, Benn added.
Benn also set out two further requirements on the government, namely that the prime minister must immediately accept an extension to January 31, 2020 if the Council agrees to one and also that should the Council propose a different date, then the prime minister must accept that extension period within two days unless this plan is rejected by the House of Commons.
The legislation expected to be rushed through the Commons in a single day on Wednesday would then require the prime minister to ask the EU for a three-month extension to Article 50, until 31 January.
If passed, it would kick in the day after a crucial EU summit on 19 October earlier than expected, but the event which Mr Johnson himself as earmarked as the last hope for a deal.
Tories, including Philip Hammond, the sacked former chancellor, and David Gauke, the ex-justice secretary, are among the Bill’s backers.
Supposedly 20 Conservative MPs are expected to join the revolt – sufficient to deliver victory defying Mr Johnson’s threat to expel them from the party if they do.
Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, said: “This Bill will stop Boris Johnson forcing through a reckless and damaging no-deal Brexit on 31 October.
Boris Johnson gave his response in Downing Street, claiming it would “chop the legs” out from under the UK’s position in trying to negotiate a fresh deal with the EU.
He said: “I say, to show our friends in Brussels that we are united in our purpose, MPs should vote with the Government against Corbyn’s pointless delay.
“I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on 31 October, no ifs or buts.”
The so-called rebel alliance will aim to take control of the Commons order paper from 3pm on Wednesday, to pass a Bill just 2 pages long, with 5 clauses, and 1 schedule.
If it can clear all its Commons stages on Wednesday, it will leave Thursday – and possibly Friday and through the weekend for a rockier path through the Lords.
The aim is for the bill to have gained royal assent by Sunday night to be assured the law is in place before Boris Johnson prorogues parliament as early as Monday.