Brexit: MPs could force second referendum by blocking government from collecting taxes
It comes as Jeremy Hunt says ‘we absolutely can’ get Theresa May’s deal through parliament
MPs could block the government’s ability to collect taxes to force Theresa May to allow a Final Say referendum.
Influential Tory rebel Dominic Grieve has backed a plan to make a new public vote – rather than a no-deal Brexit – the default option if Ms May’s deal is not approved by parliament by exit day in March.
Under the proposal, set out in a report by campaign group Best for Britain, MPs would amend the Finance Bill when it returns to the Commons on 8 January, “making future taxation conditional on holding a referendum (with an option to remain)”.
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If there is no majority in parliament for the proposal, MPs could also try to unite those who want a Final Say with those who oppose no deal, by hampering efforts to collect taxes unless the deal has been approved or a referendum scheduled, the report said.
The manoeuvre comes as foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said “we absolutely can” get the prime minister’s deal through parliament, despite widespread opposition to the Irish backstop element of her plan.
Ms May has repeatedly argued that parliament should support her Brexit deal in the meaningful vote in January or risk leaving the EU without a deal.
However pro-EU MPs and campaigners claim this is a false choice, backing The Independent’s calls for the public to be given a Final Say vote on the terms of Britain’s exit.
Mr Grieve, a former attorney general, said in a foreword to the report: “The government finds itself in an impasse of its own making.
“There are routes not yet properly explored, examined or voted upon which the prime minister appears to be attempting to close off.
“Instead Downing Street threatens a catastrophic no-deal should the prime minister’s deal fail to be delivered through parliament.
“As parliamentarians, we have a duty to examine every option open to us which would avoid such an outcome.”
The plan is the latest in a series of parliamentary attempts to give MPs more control over Brexit, including a cross-party bid to prevent new taxes being earmarked for no-deal preparations without parliament’s backing.
MPs are due to return to the Commons on 7 January after a two-week Christmas break, and will begin a new debate on Ms May’s deal on 9 January – with a vote expected to take place the following week.
Mr Hunt warned the EU that it must offer further assurances over the backstop, which is the only “outstanding issue” and can be solved.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The EU has agreed that the backstop is temporary and what we need them to do is define what temporary is.
“So my view is this is not the time to be talking about what other major changes we might be faced with making because actually we can get this through.
“We can get this through, absolutely can.”
Jeremy Corbyn has challenged Ms May to cut short the Christmas recess and recall parliament early in order to bring forward the critical vote.
In an interview with The Independent, the Labour leader said the prime minister was engaged in a “cynical manoeuvre” to run down the clock and offer MPs the “choice of the devil or the deep blue sea”.
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.
Sign our petition here