The Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, now says that rebel Tory MPs are no longer able to block no deal Brexit.


Just as Boris Johnson is out and about doing his best to publicise the £1.8 billion in cash that the NHS is getting, his Health Secretary Matt Hancock is saying that a no deal Brexit cannot now be stopped.

Mr Hancock said that the House of Commons had the chance to vote against leaving the EU without a deal before the summer recess, but they didn't as all the Tory rebels were more than offset by pro-Brexit opposition MPs, with the government winning by 11 votes.

Talking to BBC Radio Four he said:

"There were votes in Parliament just before we rose for summer that I thought would stop a no-deal Brexit and actually were defeated.

"There was a vote in particular in the middle of the leadership contest where Parliament was asked if it wanted to stop a no-deal Brexit. I thought that would go through and in fact the Government won by 11."

But, not only will there be scarce opportunity to vote against a no deal Brexit in a binding way from this point on, this might also mean that those looking for a vote of no confidence might not get what they want.

But Boris Johnson is not limiting himself to the home game, he is also playing away – and I'm talking politically here.

His Brexit Secretary, Steve Barcley, has claimed in a Mail on Sunday article that Michel Barnier has no mandate to pursue the EU side of Brexit now that a new EU Parliament is in place.

In his piece Mr Barclay wrote:

"Michel Barnier is telling us his instructions from the EU mean he cannot change it. As he told me when we spoke this week, his mandate is his mandate – he can only negotiate what the Commission and EU leaders have agreed.

"But the political realities have changed since his instructions were last set. Since the last mandate was agreed, 61 per cent of MEPs in the European Parliament have changed. Such a fundamental shift illustrates the need for a change of approach.

"Mr Barnier needs to urge EU leaders to consider this if they too want an agreement, to enable him to negotiate in a way that finds common ground with the UK. Otherwise No Deal is coming down the tracks."

And he ends by saying that it is entirely possible to come to a deal, if the EU acts reasonably and the first step is to give their Chief Brexit man, Michel Barnier, the room to negotiate.

But this sort of talk just further raises the suspicion that Boris Johnson is looking to get the Irish border backstop stripped out of the current Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty, then put it in front of MPs again and hope he pressures them into voting for it in preference to a no deal Brexit.

And hardline Brexiteers have suspected that Boris Johnson's adviser, Dominic Cummings, is looking to revive the Withdrawal Agreement in some form or another.

But, as I've said before and will say again, in order to ratify any Withdrawal Agreement Boris also needs to get the political declaration framework voted through. And I've seen no work being done by him or his team to try and get the opposition on side, something he would probably need to do given the numbers.

Remember, it was the inability of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to agree on that, which threw her off course at the end, because Labour wanted a permanent full-blown customs union with the EU and I'm not sure that Corbyn's position has changed.

Unless of course the PM is hoping that the threat of no deal will force the EU to take out the backstop and MPs to vote for whatever is presented to them as a result.

He'll have an awful lot of blagging to do, if he tries to get away with that one.


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