New Tory leader should test Brexit plan in Commons, says Prime Minister

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Theresa May has said her successor should put their Brexit plan to the test in the Commons rather than suspend Parliament to force through a no-deal outcome.

The Prime Minister’s comments came after Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed her, declined to rule out proroguing Parliament – effectively a temporary shutdown – in order to ensure the UK leaves the European Union by the October 31 deadline.

Asked whether suspending Parliament was a legitimate tactic, May said she would “hope and expect” her successor to put their proposals before the Commons.

She also indicated that she would not automatically back the Brexit strategy her replacement in Number 10 chose.

G20 summit
Prime Minister Theresa May walks down the steps of the plane with her husband, Philip, after arriving in Osaka (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Her comments came as she prepared for her final global summit as Prime Minister at the G20 in Japan.

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Johnson has insisted he was “not attracted” to the idea of proroguing Parliament, saying he wanted deliver Brexit as a “proud representative of democracy”.

But, appearing at the party’s digital hustings on Wednesday night, he warned it was essential that MPs finally acted on the 2016 referendum result and took Britain out of the EU.

Proroguing Parliament would prevent MPs from blocking a no-deal Brexit, which is the legal default position on October 31 unless there is another extension or an agreement is in place.

Speaking to reporters accompanying her on the trip to Osaka, May said: “What I hope and expect is that my successor will be able to put before Parliament proposals that will enable us to deliver on the vote of the British people in a way that will be good for the United Kingdom.”

Asked whether she would commit to backing her successor’s plan, even if it meant a no-deal divorce from Brussels, she declined to give that guarantee.

“What you are saying to me is ‘Will you now say that whatever happens in the future you’re going to agree with it?’

“Look, I think it’s important for us to deliver Brexit in a way that is good for British people.

“It will be up to my successor to take this forward, to find the majority in Parliament that I was not able to find on this issue and to deliver the decision of the British people in 2016.”

Asked whether she understood why Tory MPs could be prepared to vote against the Government, she acknowledged that Brexit “is an issue on which people feel strongly”.

She poured cold water on the prospect of her successor managing to persuade Brussels to jettison the contentious backstop proposal, the insurance measure aimed at preventing a hard border with Ireland in any circumstances.

Both Johnson and leadership rival Jeremy Hunt have said they want the backstop removed from any deal.

But May said: “The EU has made its position clear.”

Challenged to give a commitment not to back a no-confidence vote in her successor, she indicated that she would not take the risk of letting Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour take power.

She said: “As far as I’m concerned, I believe there should be a Conservative government in the United Kingdom, because a Conservative government is better for the people of the United Kingdom.”

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