According to this recent news article titled "Boris Johnson to tell EU: UK Parliament cannot stop no-deal Brexit"

Boris Johnson is to tell EU leaders this week that Brexit will happen on 31 October with or without a deal and there can be no “third way” where MPs can stop the process.

The article further says that

No10 said the PM’s goal this week was not renegotiation but to correct the “misapprehension” in European governments that the UK Parliament was able to thwart no deal.

Then there was this news article, titled "Rebel MPs cannot block a no-deal Brexit, Hancock warns" that says

Mr Hancock said pro-EU MPs had a chance to block a no-deal break on October 31 in a series of Commons votes last month before the House broke for the summer recess.

However, he said, they failed to muster the numbers as pro-EU Conservative rebels were cancelled out by pro-Brexit Labour rebels who voted with the Government.

His warning echoes the reported advice by the Prime Minister’s top aide, Dominic Cummings, that the rebels had left it too late to prevent no-deal.

He was said to have told ministers that, even if the Government lost a vote of confidence when Parliament returns in September, Mr Johnson could delay an election until after October 31 by which time, under current legislation, Britain would be out of the EU.

I realize that the reasoning behind the first article is to put some pressure on EU, in effect by sending the "look, we don't have to accept what you are offering" message. Which would be in line with the opinions expressed by Boris Johnson so far.

But let's say that the UK government secretly wanted to accept the deal that has already been agreed by Theresa May but which she was unable to push through the parliament.

Could the current UK government use the factors that they are referring to to also bypass the parliament and accept the deal already offered by EU?

2 Answers 2


The difference is that Parliament has already voted to approve "leaving the EU" when it approved the issuing the "Article 50" notification. This means that if nothing else is done the treaties of the EU will cease to apply to the UK on 31st October. No further action is required to leave the EU. The treaties would cease to apply even if Parliament was dissolved and an election was scheduled.

However to approve the Withdrawl Agreement there would need to be positive action from Parliament. There would need to be a vote on a motion. The government can't get Parliamentary approval without parliament.

Thus there is no way to bypass Parliament to force through the WA by leveraging the dissolution of Parliament leading up to an election.


What the government stated is half true. Parliament can stop a no deal Brexit, but only by replacing it with something else.

Parliament's options, if it wants to avoid No Deal are:

  • Ratify the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May's government
  • Ratify another withdrawal agreement that may be presented by Boris Johnson's government
  • Repeal the EU Withdrawal Act (2018), and require the Prime Minister to revoke the withdrawal notice made under Article 50

As for your question about the withdrawal agreement, Section 13 of the EU Withdrawal Act (2018) states that the withdrawal agreement cannot be ratified without Parliament approving:

(1)The withdrawal agreement may be ratified only if—

(a)a Minister of the Crown has laid before each House of Parliament—

(i)a statement that political agreement has been reached,

(ii)a copy of the negotiated withdrawal agreement, and

(iii)a copy of the framework for the future relationship,

(b)the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship have been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown,

(c)a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship has been tabled in the House of Lords by a Minister of the Crown and—

(i)the House of Lords has debated the motion, or

(ii)the House of Lords has not concluded a debate on the motion before the end of the period of five Lords sitting days beginning with the first Lords sitting day after the day on which the House of Commons passes the resolution mentioned in paragraph (b), and

(d)an Act of Parliament has been passed which contains provision for the implementation of the withdrawal agreement.

  • There are parliamentary issues with repealing the act, if I understand UK parliaments rules (and who does). If parliament has tried to withdraw the act and failed, it cannot reconsider it this session unless there is a substantial difference in the reconsideration. Has parliament in this session rejected repealing the act?
    – Yakk
    Aug 27, 2019 at 15:34
  • @Yakk as far as I'm aware parliament has not formally considered repealing the act.
    – phoog
    Aug 27, 2019 at 16:38
  • @phoog What about in March 2019? businessinsider.com/…
    – Dai
    Aug 27, 2019 at 19:32
  • 2
    Parliament has considered revoking Article 50 as part of the indicative votes process, during which the normal rules were suspended. They haven't, as far as I'm aware, considered revoking the EU Withdrawal Act, as that in itself would require an Act of Parliament (and not a simple motion).
    – Joe C
    Aug 27, 2019 at 19:57
  • @Dai according to the article, the vote was "against a motion...to make revoking Article 50 the "default" position if the Commons fails to ratify a deal." That is not a bill to repeal the EU withdrawal act, so the rule about reconsidering questions would not prevent the consideration of such a bill.
    – phoog
    Aug 27, 2019 at 20:48

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