Michael Gove refuses to rule out Government ignoring no-deal Commons vote

Michael Gove has refused to confirm the Government would abide by legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit if it is forced through by Tory rebels and opposition this week.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was pressed repeatedly whether ministers would accept a successful bid by Commons opponents to pass legislation, preventing a no-deal withdrawal on October 31.

Mr Gove told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "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."

The phrase means to buy something without first seeing or assessing it properly.

Downing Street took a similar standpoint and told ITV News' Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt "we’ll wait and see what the legislation is before outlining our position".

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Gove's stance was "breathtaking".

He tweeted: "For ministers not to confirm that this Government will accept and comply with legislation lawfully passed is breathtaking.

"The Prime Minister must make a statement on this straightaway.

"No Government is above the law."

The comments come ahead of a pivotal week in the Commons, when MPs return from the summer recess.

A clash between opponents of no-deal and the Government is expected, with the green benches looking to seize control of the parliamentary agenda to push through legislation delaying Brexit beyond October 31.

Sir Keir told ITV News that when MPs return to the Commons on Tuesday, the following days will be the "final chance" they have to try and stop Brexit.

He added that opposition MPs and those against a no-deal had been "working all summer" to try and avoid it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is suspending Parliament for up to five weeks from mid-September until mid-October, but has rejected claims the reason is to block MPs from thwarting a no-deal Brexit.

Leading Tory rebel and former justice secretary David Gauke said he was holding discussions with Mr Johnson on Monday regarding the Brexit agenda.

David Gauke will meet with the prime minster on Monday to hear what his Brexit agenda is. Credit: PA

Speaking on Sky's Sophie Ridge on Sunday programme, he said: "I want to hear how he plans to deliver the legislation if we get a deal by October 31, because at the moment, frankly, I can't see how he's got time to do that."

Referring to reports that Tories who oppose a no-deal option could lose the party whip, Mr Gauke said: "Sometimes there is a point where... you have to judge between your own personal interests and the national interest.

"And the national interest has to come first."

But International Development Secretary Alok Sharma warned Tory rebels to be "clear whose side you are on."

Mr Sharma told Sky News any Conservative MP who is considering joining opposition attempts to pass legislation to block a no-deal Brexit needed to "stand with the people" and deliver Brexit.

Meanwhile, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has insisted he will not scrap the Irish backstop and is "not optimistic" about avoiding a no-deal departure.

Mr Barnier, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, insisted the measures, aimed at preventing a hard border across Ireland, represented the "maximum flexibility" that Brussels can offer.

However, the Prime Minister has branded the current Withdrawal Agreement, with the Irish backstop, "unacceptable".

Michel Barnier said the backstop represented the 'maximum flexibility' that Brussels can offer. Credit: PA

He told The Sunday Times the country needed to "come out of the incarceration of the backstop."

Mr Johnson launched a war of words against would-be Tory Brexit rebels ahead of a showdown Commons clash.

He told The Sunday Times everyone in Parliament faces a "fundamental choice" between standing with him and the Government or Jeremy Corbyn.