Remainer MPs will mount an all-out bid to block No Deal today after Speaker John Bercow bent parliamentary rules to help them.
A cross-party motion being voted on this afternoon would effectively seize control from the government – and pave the way for a ban on the UK leaving without an agreement.
Mr Bercow has been accused of ‘constitutional vandalism’ for allowing the Opposition to table a business motion – which can usually only be done by the government.
Tory grandee Oliver Letwin (l) and Labour shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer are co-signatories of the motion which could deprive a future PM of the No Deal negotiating strategy
Formally launching his leadership campaign, Boris Johnson (pictured leaving his London home today) will vow to stick to the October 31 deadline, saying ‘delay means Corbyn’
Commons Speaker John Bercow (pictured) has caused fury by allowing Labour to table a Commons business motion, which would normally be the preserve of the Government
If it is passed, a Bill will be brought forward within weeks that could make it illegal to suspend parliament to force a No Deal – a proposal mooted by some Tory hopefuls. Rebels say they could broaden the legislation to ban crashing out altogether.
The move to wrest control of Parliamentary business from the Government has the support of former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin, as well as all the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Greens.
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart indicated he supported Parliament’s efforts to block No Deal, but later said he would not vote for it after being warned he could face the sack.
One senior Tory accused Mr Bercow, who has spoken out against Brexit in the past, of ‘constitutional vandalism’.
How would the Remainer plan work?
Normally only the government can table business motions in the Commons.
But Speaker John Bercow has bent the rules to allow Labour to lay a motion in their Opposition day slot, with support from other parties.
If passed in a vote this afternoon, the plan would seize control of the Parliamentary timetable on June 25.
On that date MPs will be able to put forward legislation instructing the government how to handle the Brexit process.
Initially the Remainers say this law would be restricted to preventing the Commons from being suspended to stop it blocking No Deal at the end of October – as some Tory leadership hopefuls have suggested.
However, rebels have made clear they will go further if any PM tried to take the UK out of the bloc without a deal.
But his decision means MPs will be asked to vote on a Commons motion today which would give pro-Remain MPs control of the parliamentary timetable on June 25.
Labour said MPs would then ‘have the chance to introduce legislation that could help avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal’.
The legislation is expected to focus on ruling out the option of suspending Parliament to push through No Deal, which has been floated by leadership contenders Dominic Raab and Esther McVey.
But a Tory source involved in the move last night said further legislation would follow if any new PM tried to pursue a No Deal Brexit.
The source said: ‘We will start by ruling out proroguing Parliament but at a bigger level it is showing that Parliament will block No Deal.
‘We are flexing our muscles to remind Boris and anyone else that they cannot do this.’
Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said the vote on blocking a no-deal Brexit is a ‘safety valve’ aimed at Tory leadership contenders pledging to freeze MPs out of the decision.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This is about that safety valve, that lock in the process, so that somebody who may find themselves elected a leader of the Tory Party on a promise of, in Dominic Raab’s case, proroguing Parliament, and locking Parliament out of this process – they can’t do that.
‘They would have to come back to Parliament and get the consent of MPs.’
The initiative is modelled on the successful bid by Labour’s Yvette Cooper earlier this year to change the law and force Mrs May to seek an extension to Article 50 rather than leave without a deal.
That bid passed by just one vote. But a rebel source insisted there were ‘easily enough’ Conservative MPs to push it through this time.
Former Tory minister Nick Boles has said he will fly back from abroad to back the bid.
The move is also embarrassing for Mr Gove, who counts Sir Oliver among his leading supporters. Mr Gove last night described the proposals as ‘Labour’s plans’ and vowed to ‘resist them’.
Ten MPs are on the ballot as Tory MPs prepare to vote on who will be their next leader
He said: ‘While I would prefer to leave the EU with a better deal, we must not rule out No Deal. If ultimately it came to a choice between No Deal and no Brexit, I would choose No Deal.
How will the Tory leader battle play out?
THURSDAY, JUNE 12
This will be another critical day, as the first ballot takes place.
Anyone with fewer than 16 votes will be automatically eliminated, and at least one will be ejected.
THURSDAY, JUNE 19
Further rounds of voting will take place during June until there are just two candidates left by this point.
They will then go to a run-off ballot of the 160,000 Tory members.
WEEK OF JULY 22
The winner is due to be declared this week.
They will take over from Mrs May as PM shortly afterwards – probably in time to take a session of PMQs before the Commons breaks up for its summer recess.
‘Labour’s plans to seize control of the business of the Commons must be resisted.’
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer described the Tory debate about No Deal as ‘disturbing, ludicrous and reckless’.
He added: ‘We have witnessed candidates openly advocating a damaging No Deal Brexit and even proposing dragging the Queen into politics by asking her to shut down Parliament to achieve this.’
The move came as ministers argued over Brexit at a meeting of the Cabinet.
Government Chief Whip Julian Smith warned that Parliament could ultimately prevent a No Deal exit and would use ‘all endeavours’ to do so.
Mr Barclay called for preparations to be stepped up for a potential No Deal Brexit in October, but was slapped down by Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who said the cash would be better spent dealing with priorities like child poverty and education.