BBC host Steph McGovern clashed in a heated debate with Conservative Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in an explosive Brexit row. The presenter pressed the Tory MP for Welwyn Hatfield over the “backlash” the Prime Minister has seen since announcing he will prorogue Parliament ahead of the Queen’s Speech on October 14, which will effectively limit the time MPs have to try to block a no deal Brexit. Mr Shapps quickly hit back at MPs “getting excited” over the announcement from the Prime Minister earlier this week.
The BBC host said: “Mr Shapps there has been a huge backlash to this. You are painting a picture that this is very normal. But, there has been a huge backlash and amongst some of your MPs as well.
“This is at a time when we need to get agreement between people, not division, isn’t it?”
The Tory MP quickly replied: “I tell you what isn’t normal, it is not normal to think it’s okay not to have legislation to pass. You can’t have legislation to pass unless you have a new Queen’s Speech.
“What’s not normal is we haven’t had a new Queen’s Speech and this is correcting that with a Government that has got a very busy domestic agenda to do with 20,000 more police to clamp down on serious crime.
“Putting more money into the NHS, making sure we level up school spending, so all the pupils are getting the right amount of money.
“So, there is a big domestic agenda. Which you cannot do unless you are able to set that out in a Queen’s Speech.
“It is perfectly normal, I know people are getting extremely excited about it. But, actually, those four days in October, to get ready for the new Queen’s Speech, seems perfectly rational to me.”
He added: “And then there is plenty of time around that European Summit, both before and after to debate whatever new has, I hope, come out from this stepped-up effort by the EU and our diplomats to try to find a negotiated settlement.
“But, all of that against the backdrop of the announcement I am actually making today and to speak about which is preparing the ports readiness and the infrastructure readiness.”
The Prime Minister refused to accept that he was limiting MPs time to debate Brexit as a result of the decision to suspend Parliament ahead of the Queen’s Speech on October 14.
Mr Johnson said: “There will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October 17 Summit in Parliament for MPs to debate the EU, Brexit and all the other issues.”
The move from the Government came after opposition parties met at the start of this week and said they would do everything in their power to try to block a no deal exit from the Brussels bloc.
Campaigners against a no deal Brexit accused the Prime Minister of “trashing the constitution” after the Government’s plans to prorogue Parliament in the lead-up to the October 31 Brexit deadline.
Defending the decision on Thursday morning, Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “I think the outrage is phoney and it is created by people who don’t want us to leave the European Union and are trying very hard to overturn the referendum result and don’t want the benefits of leaving the European Union.”
He added: “Parliament wasn’t going to be sitting for most of this time anyway. This is completely constitutional and proper.”
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Speaking on Sky News, shadow chancellor John McDonnell outlined the next steps for Labour. He said: “The position we are in at the moment is looking at a legislative intervention next week.
“We will focus on that, and what we will do and Jeremy Corbyn brought all the opposition leaders together, it was an incredibly productive and positive meeting and we have all agreed on the strategy we are pursuing and that is what we will hold to.”
Former Conservative frontbencher David Gauke warned next week will be the last chance for MPs to maintain “some control” over the Brexit process before a potential no deal exit.
He said: “It does look like next week is essentially the only opportunity that Parliament will have to maintain some control over this process and ensure that it has a say before we leave without a deal.”
Tory rebel and former minister Sir Oliver Letwin, a leading opponent of a no deal Brexit, said he had been speaking to Commons Speaker John Bercow to establish “what the procedures are”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is no question of any MP cooking up a deal with the Speaker – you can’t do that, the Speaker has to follow the rules.
“It’s perfectly true that I, for many months, have been talking to the clerks and to the Speaker, and that’s the appropriate thing for MPs to do if they want to establish what the procedures are. The action here is on the part of MPs, not on the part of the Speaker.”
He added: “I, of course, would like to see the prorogation not happen because I don’t think the prorogation is a proper proceeding. But, whether it is lawful or not, we will find out in the courts. That’s not for MPs to decide.
“What I have been concerned with and will continue to be concerned with is the question of how, in the remaining time if we are prorogued, we can ensure that Britain doesn’t make a sudden, disorderly, undemocratic no-deal exit on October 31.”
Shadow attorney-general Baroness Chakrabarti said she believed opponents of Boris Johnson had the numbers in Parliament to force through a change in the law to block a no deal.