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No 10 condemns 'grossly irresponsible' move to block no-deal Brexit

File photo dated 14/12/2017 of Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono who has warned against a no-deal Brexit. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 27, 2019. Kono said he had worked with both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson as foreign secretary and had always said "please no no-deal Brexit". See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

By Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor

Downing Street has condemned moves by MPs to shut down Government spending in the event of a no-deal Brexit as "grossly irresponsible".

Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve and Labour grandee Dame Margaret Beckett have tabled an amendment which would deny departments access to funding in the event of no-deal unless it has been specifically approved by MPs.

The move, which follows Boris Johnson's pledge to take Britain out of the EU by the end of October "do or die", aims to make it harder for the next prime minister to leave without a deal with Brussels in place.

If it succeeds in a Commons vote on Tuesday, it could cut off cash to four Whitehall departments - education, housing, communities and local government, international development and work and pensions.

Under parliamentary procedure, MPs have to approve Government spending - known as estimates - twice a year.

However the amendment, if passed, would mean funding to the affected departments would only continue after Brexit if Parliament has ratified a deal with Brussels or MPs have voted to leave with no deal.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "We don't know if that amendment is going to be selected at this point. Any attempt to deny vital funding to Whitehall departments would be grossly irresponsible.

"This is Government spending for this financial year and funds crucial areas like schools, housing and welfare."

It is unclear at this stage whether the MPs behind the move have sufficient support to defeat the Government.

A Labour motion enabling MPs to take control of Commons business with a view to blocking a no-deal Brexit was narrowly defeated earlier this month by just 11 votes.

However more Tory MPs opposed to no-deal could be prepared to back a cross-party amendment, putting the Government's majority in jeopardy.

Pic by Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

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