LONDON – The U.K. opposition Labour Party will try once again to seize control of the parliamentary agenda Wednesday, part of an effort to stop the next prime minister from taking the country out of the EU without a deal.
The 10 candidates to replace Theresa May as prime minister are arguing about how best to deliver Brexit. Several insist the U.K. should leave by Oct. 31 with or without a deal, and one has floated the idea of stopping Parliament from sitting so that members wouldn’t be able to block this. Others are arguing that Parliament doesn’t have the power to force a prime minister to change course.
If Labour wins the vote Wednesday afternoon, at least an hour will be set aside on June 25 for further debate on a motion to be selected by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who has repeatedly worked with MPs trying to soften Brexit. As with similar moves at the start of the year, that could be used to set in train a process that takes control of the agenda from the government.
At that point, the identity of the next prime minister won’t be known, but the Conservative Party will have narrowed down its list of candidates considerably, and the direction that the party is moving in may be clearer.
“The debate on Brexit in the Tory leadership contest has descended into the disturbing, the ludicrous and the reckless,” Labour Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said in an emailed statement. “MPs cannot be bystanders while the next Tory prime minister tries to crash the UK out of the European Union without a deal and without the consent of the British people.”
The motion will only pass if sufficient Conservatives rebel and support it. One former minister, Oliver Letwin, has already put his name to it.
More surprisingly, Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart told his launch event Tuesday evening that, though he didn’t know the detail of the Labour plan, “my instinct is I would be wholly supportive.” In reality, he would probably have to resign as international development secretary, a job he only took last month, to vote for the motion.