Threat of a coup is ‘real and terrifying’

Rebel: Dominic Grieve as Oliver Cromwell (with apologies to the artist Robert Walker, 1599-1658).

A bombshell plot by senior MPs to seize control of Brexit negotiations tomorrow night and sideline the prime minister has stirred references to Oliver Cromwell’s seizure of power in 1649.

We are on the brink of an important week in British history.

Tomorrow, MPs will finally vote on whether to approve the prime minister’s Brexit deal. Theresa May is facing a big defeat.

If she loses, May must return to Parliament the following Monday with a plan B. This could be an altered deal, a no-deal or a delayed Brexit to give time for more talks with the EU. She could even resign.

Writing in the Sunday Express, May pleaded with MPs to back her deal.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Sir John Major said it would be “morally reprehensible” for the government to allow Britain to leave the EU without a deal, because of the disruption it could cause. “Jumping off a cliff never has a happy ending.”

But amidst the chaos, one story stood out.

A group of formidable MPs led by Dominic Grieve and Sir Oliver Letwin is plotting a parliamentary power grab.

Determined to stop a no-deal Brexit at any cost, they will seek to change Commons rules so to give backbench MPs as much power as the government in proposing motions. This could let Parliament take control of Brexit, or even delay it.

Today, Theresa May’s former legislative chief, Nikki da Costa, who had a key role in getting the government’s Brexit plans through Parliament, warns under the headline “the threat of a Brexit coup in Parliament is real — and terrifying” that the government will lose its ability to govern.

Rebels and roundheads

The majority of the UK voted for Brexit. In 2017, Labour and Tory MPs alike were elected on a pledge to carry out Brexit.

So who are Grieve and co. really “taking back control” from? An out-of-touch, obstinate government, or the people of this country? Some think the rebels are behaving like an elite which knows better than the unruly masses.

You Decide

  1. Would a no-deal Brexit be a disaster?

Activities

  1. “Should Britain leave the EU?” Hold your own class referendum with a show of hands. How different was your result to the one of the 2016 referendum? What are the main arguments for each side of the debate? Talk about these questions as a class.

Some People Say...

“[Tuesday’s vote is] biggest and most important decision that any MP of our generation will be asked to make.”

Theresa May

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Tomorrow, MPs will vote on whether to approve Theresa May’s Brexit deal. She is likely to be defeated, as up to 100 Conservatives from hardcore Brexiteers to Remain voters could vote against her.
What do we not know?
Whether the rebels will succeed in their Cromwellian power grab.

Word Watch

Reprehensible
Disgraceful, should be condemned.
Formidable
Inspiring fear or respect.
Dominic Grieve
A former Conservative minister who is also a top barrister. He is very critical of Brexit.
Motions
A statement that Parliament votes on. Sometimes they must be followed if MPs vote in favour, but others are just symbolic.

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