A Cabinet minister has said the government currently has “no plan” in place if Parliament chooses to stop the UK leaving the EU at the end of the month.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said ministers are currently focused on doing “absolutely everything in our power” to hit the October 31 deadline currently agreed with Brussels.
Mr Jenrick told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Boris Johnson and this Government will do absolutely everything in our power to deliver Brexit on October 31.
“But we have no plan as to what might happen if Parliament doesn’t allow us to get Brexit done on October 31 because we intend to get it done on that date and that’s the sole focus of this Government at the moment.”
It came as Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said the Government wanted to get into “intensive negotiations” with Brussels – and confirmed that discussions were taking place with opposition MPs to win support for the PM’s blueprint.
Mr Johnson meanwhile urged the EU to “grasp the opportunity” his plan provides but insisted Britain will pack its bags and walk out on October 31 – even if Europe does not “cheerily wave us off” with a deal.
Mr Barclay appeared to confirm that the Government would send a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit delay if a deal has not been agreed by October 19 – after Government lawyers told Scotland’s highest civil court that Mr Johnson accepted the commitment.
Pressed on the pledge, Mr Barclay told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “If a commitment is given to the court, you abide by it.”
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He also said the Government had been “talking to Members of Parliament across the House because I think many Members of Parliament want to avoid no-deal”.
“And particularly those Members of Parliament in Leave constituencies who have voted against no-deal and voted against a deal three times, then they will need to be able to address this issue when they return to their electorate,” he added.
Describing his blueprint for an agreement as a “practical compromise that gives ground where necessary”, Mr Johnson said it represents the UK “jumping to the island in the middle of the river”.
Writing in the Sun on Sunday, he added: “If we’re to leave with a deal, we now need the EU to jump over from its side and join us there, showing its own willingness to do a deal that the UK Parliament can support.”
Mr Johnson urged Brussels to “grasp the opportunity” his new Brexit proposal provides, as he repeated his vow not to delay the UK’s departure.
The Prime Minister insisted Britain will pack its bags and walk out on October 31, but said it remains to be seen whether Europe will “cheerily wave us off” with a deal.
But the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier poured scorn on the chances of the new proposal succeeding, reportedly telling an event in Paris: “If they do not change, I do not believe, on the basis of the mandate I have been given by the EU27, that we can advance.”
In comments reported by The Observer, he also reiterated the EU’s claim that a no-deal outcome would “never be Europe’s choice… it would always be the UK’s choice, not ours”.
Despite Mr Bariner’s gloominess, the European Commission said on Friday this week that EU member states agree the proposals “do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.
A spokesman said discussions between the two sides would not take place this weekend, as had been anticipated, and instead the UK will be given “another opportunity to present its proposals in detail” on Monday.