Cross-party Brexit talks: Will they or won’t they?

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Opposition party leaders have been meeting to try and thwart Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy

For the last couple of weeks, groups in Parliament opposed to a no-deal Brexit have been talking – but so far, they’ve failed to agree on tactics.

Last week, it was a lack of consensus on who should head an emergency government if Boris Johnson can’t get a new deal and refuses to seek a Brexit extension later this month.

Labour said Jeremy Corbyn had to be emergency prime minister if the plan was to work, other didn’t.

Timing was also an issue. The SNP wanted to move right away, others didn’t. Instead, opposition parties decided to apply for a series of emergency debates designed to force ministers to publish key documents.

However, the Speaker, John Bercow, refused to grant the debates, so beyond a few meetings nothing really happened.

One attendee texted me in advance of one of those meetings with two emojis: a biscuit and a cup of coffee.

Suffice to say they didn’t think much progress was being made.

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Over the weekend, talks have continued and an ambush was planned for Monday.

It was designed to pave the way for opposition figures to take control of the Commons from next week to pass more emergency laws on no-deal, or demand more documents in the run-up to 31 October.

But that has now been put on ice.

Sources say former Tory MPs expelled for refusing to back Mr Johnson’s strategy – Dominic Grieve, David Gauke and their cohort – got cold feet and want to give No 10 more time to try and get a new deal with Brussels.

Those opposition figures who have been frantically trying to get all their MPs to the Commons today are less than pleased.


There are different interpretations of how much this matters.

Some opposition figures are worried Downing Street will be able to bypass legislation to stop no-deal and fear they’ve missed a chance to act.

Others are more relaxed and believe the so-called Benn Act is watertight.

We’ll only know for sure at the end of next week – and only if the prime minister fails to agree a new deal with Brussels and get it through Parliament.

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