SNP considers bill to change no-deal Brexit default

The SNP is considering bringing forward legislation that would stop “no deal” being the default Brexit position.

If a Brexit agreement is not reached between the UK and EU by 31 October, the current legal default is to leave with no deal in place.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said there were mechanisms to change this, such as bringing forward a new bill, if enough MPs support it.

PM hopeful Boris Johnson has said he is prepared to walk away without a deal.

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But speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, Mr Blackford said he was confident that “no deal” was not now the most likely outcome.

‘Seize the moment’

The SNP Westminster leader said he was encouraged by the vote to stop a new prime minister suspending Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.

He added: “We need to seize the moment to finish the job and take no-deal off the table.

“There is a clear majority in Parliament that wants to stop no-deal, we are talking right across the chamber, it is right that we do that, and there are opportunities we are looking at.

“We need to bring a motion to parliament that would have authority, allow us to present a bill that can stop Boris Johnson going forward and pushing through no deal.

“There are a number of potential options but for example we could bring forward a bill that would amend the Withdrawal Act that would strike out no-deal as the default position.

“If parliament gives that signal that no deal is not acceptable then I would expect the EU to take account of that.”

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Mr Johnson is widely expected to become the next prime minister when the winner of the Tory leadership race is announced on Tuesday

MPs have consistently voted against a no-deal Brexit – which means the UK would immediately leave the EU with no agreement in place about the “divorce” process – but the new prime minister could try to get around that by suspending Parliament – proroguing – in the run-up to the deadline, denying them an opportunity to block it.

A majority of 41 MPs approved an amendment in the House of Commons on 18 July that blocks any such suspension of Parliament between 9 October and 18 December.

Tory leadership front runner Mr Johnson has said he is not bluffing about leaving the EU on 31 October – even if it means walking away without a deal.

His opponent, Jeremy Hunt, says he will decide by the end of September whether there is a “realistic chance” of reaching a new deal. After that, he will prepare to leave without one.

Meanwhile, also speaking on BBC Sunday Politics Scotland, Lib Dem leadership candidate Jo Swinson ruled out any coalition with a Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn, claiming he is “not fit to be prime minister”.

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