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MPs to propose law to stop no-deal Brexit - Gove won't rule out ignoring it if it passes

Opposition MP Sir Keir Starmer said Gove’s comments were “breathtaking”.

Image: Jonathan Brady/PA

UK CABINET MINISTER Michael Gove has refused to guarantee the government would abide by legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit if it passes after being proposed by MPs this week.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that MPs who want to prevent a no-deal Brexit will seek to bring forward legislation this week.

“The legislation is intended to ensure we don’t leave without a deal, that will require an extension,” he said.

“The length of the extension is secondary, frankly. We have simply got to stop us leaving without a deal.”

Also speaking on Marr’s show today, Gove refused to rule out ignoring such a law if it was passed. When asked whether the government would abide by this legislation, he responded:

Let’s see what the legislation says. You’re asking me about a pig in a poke. And I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.

Starmer said it was “breathtaking” that Gove would not confirm whether the government would accept and comply with the legislation.

“The Prime Minister must make a statement on this straightaway,” he said. “No government is above the law.”

‘Not optimistic’

Meanwhile EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Marnier has said the bloc will not change the deal agreed with Britain and he is “not optimistic” of avoiding a no-deal outcome.

Barnier said the most contentious element of the agreement, the backstop mechanism aimed at keeping the Northern Irish border open in all circumstances, must remain.

The British prime minister has said he was encouraged in his bid to axe the backstop by recent meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who appeared to suggest an openness to alternatives.

But writing in the Sunday Telegraph today, Barnier said Brussels remained unconvinced after “intense discussions with EU member states on the need to guarantee the integrity of the EU’s Single Market, while keeping that border fully open”.

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“The backstop is the maximum amount of flexibility that the EU can offer to a non-member state,” he wrote.

“I am not optimistic about avoiding a ‘no deal’ scenario but I remain determined to explore all avenues that the UK government will present that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement.”

- With reporting by AFP. 

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