Former Conservative minister Dominic Grieve said he feared the Prime Minister intended to declare a state of emergency to force through Brexit, using the threat of civil disorder as an excuse.
In a highly provocative claim, the pro-Remain MP said: ‘The message coming from Downing St is – we have to leave by October 31 or there will be riots.’
Former Conservative minister Dominic Grieve said he feared the Prime Minister intended to declare a state of emergency to force through Brexit, using the threat of civil disorder as an excuse
He accused the Government of ‘talking up’ the possibility with a view to using riots to justify invoking the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 – which includes emergency powers that would enable Mr Johnson to ignore the anti-No Deal law approved this month in Parliament.
The comments by Mr Grieve – one of 21 Tory MPs thrown out of the party for backing the Labour plot to scupper a No Deal Brexit – were denounced by pro-Brexit ex-Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith as ‘shameful.’
He added: ‘This is the new Project Fear. Having failed to dupe voters in the 2016 referendum campaign into believing they should be frightened of leaving the EU, the opponents of Brexit are now trying to make people frightened of Boris Johnson.’
The new Tory rift followed angry scenes in the Commons this week after Mr Johnson dismissed Labour MPs’ fears that his rhetoric put them at risk as ‘humbug.’
The dispute about the anti-No Deal law put forward by Labour MP Hilary Benn – dubbed the ‘Surrender Act’ by the Prime Minister – came as Downing St rejected a claim by Sir John Major that Mr Johnson could use the Privy Council to bypass it.
Sir John warned an Order in Council could be used – a method which would not involve the Queen – but this was dismissed as ‘complete nonsense’ by Government sources.
Most legal experts say they cannot see how Mr Johnson can avoid being forced to ask Brussels to extend the UK’s EU membership unless he has achieved a deal by mid-October.
Sources in Number 10 have been anonymously briefing journalists that there will be riots if Britain does not leave the European Union on October 31
Asked how the PM might circumvent the Benn law, a No 10 spokesman said: ‘We will comply with the law, but we are leaving on October 31.’
Mr Grieve intervened after an unnamed ‘senior Cabinet Minister’ reportedly told the Times that Britain risked a ‘violent, popular uprising’, similar to the French ‘gilets jaunes’ protests, if a second EU referendum overturned the first result.
The Minister reportedly said: ‘People don’t think it’s possible in this country just because it has not happened before. Now they have a model – gilets jaunes – and it only takes a couple of nasty populist frontmen to inspire people.’
Tensions were also fuelled by the PM’s chief No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings who said people were angry with MPs for blocking Brexit. He vowed Brexit will happen by October 31 ‘by any means necessary’.
The Civil Contingencies Act contains powers including curfews, travel bans, confiscation of property and in extreme cases, calling in the Army. It can also be used to amend Acts of Parliament, except the Human Rights Act, for up to 21 days.
DOMINIC GRIEVE: We’ll go to court to stop Boris Johnson and we will win
While accepting that Boris Johnson is determined to deliver Brexit, I have always assumed that his Government would abide by the same rules that have applied to previous British governments. But events of the last week or so have made me seriously wonder whether that is any longer the case.
I have been astonished to hear ministers talking up the possibility of civil disorder if we do not leave the EU on October 31.
They are consistent with Mr Johnson’s response in the Commons to female Labour MPs who said they had received threats because of Brexit. In effect, he told them the way to stop the threats was to deliver Brexit.
I have been astonished to hear ministers talking up the possibility of civil disorder if we do not leave the EU on October 31, writes DOMINIC GRIEVE
And it is in line with Dominic Cummings’ comment that the Government will leave on October 31 ‘by any means necessary’.
The message coming from Downing Street is we have to leave by October 31 or there will be riots.
My worry is that this is part of an orchestrated script and part of a Government policy to get around the law drafted by Labour MP Hilary Benn and approved by the Commons – with my support – designed to prevent the Prime Minister taking the UK out of the EU next month without a deal.
My suspicion is that they may be planning to use the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act to suspend that law on the grounds that otherwise there will be riots before and afterwards.
What I find most shocking is that ministers seem to be actively promoting this idea to justify invoking the Civil Contingencies Act and declaring a state of emergency.
I realise that I am open to criticism by those who support Brexit and who say my main aim is to stop it.
But however passionately people feel about this, the debate inside and outside Parliament must be conducted in a calm and respectful manner.
And it is in line with Dominic Cummings’ comment that the Government will leave on October 31 ‘by any means necessary’.The message coming from Downing Street is we have to leave by October 31 or there will be riots, writes DOMINIC GRIEVE
Like many MPs at the forefront of this debate, I have received my share of unpleasant threats but, for the most part, I am struck how the majority of people still discuss the matter in moderate terms.
For ministers to indulge in wild talk about civil disorder if they are prevented from taking us out of the EU with no deal on October 31 is appalling – and even worse if it has the sinister ulterior motive of thwarting any attempt by Parliament to stop it happening.
I do not believe the Government could get away it. If they try to overturn the Benn Act, we will go court to stop them and I believe we will win.
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