Boris Johnson’s top adviser does not understand the British constitution or how MPs can still block a no-deal Brexit, a senior Conservative has told Sky News.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve insisted there was still time to ensure the UK does not leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement on 31 October.
He attacked the new prime minister’s enforcer, the former Vote Leave mastermind Dominic Cummings, for having a “characteristic arrogance and ignorance”.
Mr Cummings has reportedly told Downing Street aides and ministers it is now too late for MPs to block no-deal in less than 90 days.
He believes even if they win a possible vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson when parliament returns from its summer break, the prime minister could simply schedule an election for after Brexit day, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
But the analysis was dismissed by Mr Grieve, who said the law “doesn’t necessarily mean that if there is a no-confidence vote it leads inevitably to a general election at all”.
He pointed out a two-week deadline would kick in for the Commons to find a new prime minister it can support – potentially one leading a government of national unity.
“I don’t think it necessarily follows that it would be a Corbyn-led government,” he told Sky News.
“There are a number of people but I’m not going to give their names publicly. I think I know who they are and the sort of people who command confidence across the House of Commons.
“I can think of some in the Labour Party, and I can think of some in the Liberal Democrats.
“But particularly in the Labour Party who have also held high office.”
Turning his fire on Mr Cummings, Mr Grieve added the claim that under “no circumstances” could MPs block no-deal on 31 October was “simply wrong”.
“I’m afraid that’s a mixture of his characteristic arrogance and ignorance,” he added.
It comes after reports EU leaders have accepted Britain is leaving the bloc without a deal.
A senior EU diplomat was quoted by the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian as saying: “Our working hypothesis is no-deal.”
Downing Street has said its message to Brussels is the current Brexit deal has been rejected three times by parliament, and the Irish backstop element must be removed – a move the EU has resisted.