John Bercow has declared he will fight any bid by Boris Johnson to shut parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.
The Commons speaker said “nobody is going to get away as far as I am concerned” with stopping MPs taking action to avoid the scenario, according to The Daily Telegraph.
In his first public comments since the new prime minister won the keys to Number 10, the paper said Mr Bercow also went one step further and claimed the Commons could stop Britain leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement on 31 October.
The option of suspending parliament – known as “proroguing” it – was raised when Mr Johnson’s team were considering it during the Tory leadership race.
It sparked a fierce backlash from opponents who said they would challenge the move in the courts, including former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major.
But in his first comments on the matter since Mr Johnson entered Downing Street, Mr Bercow firmly indicated he would block the prime minister trying to close the Commons.
“The one thing I feel strongly about is that the House of Commons must have its way,” he is reported to have said on Tuesday at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.
“And if there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – god forbid! – to close down parliament that is anathema to me and I will fight it with every bone in my body to stop that happening.
“We cannot have a situation in which parliament is shut down – we are a democratic society and parliament will be heard and nobody is going to get away as far as I am concerned with stopping that happening.”
An audience member quoted by The Telegraph then shouted out to ask if parliament could still stop a no-deal Brexit, to which Mr Bercow allegedly replied unequivocally: “Yes.”
MPs opposed to a no-deal divorce on Halloween are plotting how to block it happening by either triggering a vote of no confidence to try to oust Mr Johnson or by wrestling control of Commons procedure, as they did in April.
Mr Johnson has demanded the EU renegotiate its withdrawal agreement it drew up with Theresa May, but Brussels has refused, resulting in stalemate since the new prime minister took over.
Former chancellor Philip Hammond also made a dramatic intervention in the Brexit debate by saying it is was a “travesty” to suggest Leave voters in the 2016 referendum were opting for a no-deal divorce from the EU.
He called on Mr Johnson to “demonstrate” his “commitment to a genuine negotiation with the EU to achieve a deal” in a comment piece for The Times.
And Mr Hammond appeared to take aim at the prime minister’s most senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, attacking a group of “unelected people who pull the strings of this government”.
A Number 10 source told Sky News: “Hammond actively undermined the government’s negotiating position by frustrating and obstructing preparation to leave EU.
“Everyone knows the ex-chancellor’s real objective was to cancel the referendum result.” – Sky News.