Leaked memo reveals ministers warned of Brexit plot to keep UK in permanent customs union with EU
Ministers have been warned that MPs supporting an amendment to delay Brexit could “politicise the monarchy” and lead to a “full blown constitutional crisis” causing the Government to “lose its ability to govern” according to leaked documents seen by the Telegraph. The explosive memo advising the cabinet as Theresa May battles to win Tuesday’s second meaningful vote – warns that supporting any amendment re-tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tories Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles could pave the way for a bill to change the day of our EU exit and bind the Government into a permanent customs union. It comes as at least five Cabinet ministers are poised to vote to block no deal next week if Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement is rejected, prompting the Prime Minister to consider offering Tory MPs a free vote on the matter to avoid a mass resignation. Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd, David Gauke, Greg Clark and Matt Hancock are all expected to rebel against the Government. If Mrs May’s deal is voted down and there is no support for leaving the EU without a deal in parliament, MPs will then given the option to vote to delay Brexit. Warning that a passed amendment on a vote to delay Brexit would be turned into a bill that would be “fast tracked” into both Houses, the memo states: “Once passed, the Government would have no option but to advise the Queen to give Royal Assent. The Government would have no control of the Chamber. It would have lost its ability to govern. A cross-party majority in the House would effectively have seized control of Brexit policy and would be directing legally binding outcomes.” The advice comes after sources are understood to have told Number 10 that those rewording the amendment are now seeking to not only delay Brexit but “direct” it by imposing requirements on the Government in relation how to use the extension period. The advice predicts that the amendment will call for a legally binding Commons vote on any new negotiating mandate, which it predicts will “likely lead to a Commons majority being expressed for a permanent customs union, which Government would have no choice but to then implement.” The memo warns: “We can expect a legally binding imposition by the House on Government to ensure at the very least: Extension of Article 50, a cross-party negotiating mandate (which we assume will lead to a permanent customs union) and possibly a requirement to legislate for a second referendum”. It suggests the largely remain-backing Lords would expedite any legislation to ensure its passage in the next fortnight, potentially giving rise to the Queen having to give royal assent to a “soft” Brexit bill days before March 29. It adds: “The monarchy categorically cannot be politicised in an attempt to thwart the majority view of the two Houses – any attempt to do so would lead to a full blown constitutional crisis”.