SIR Oliver Letwin has tabled an amendment that could scupper Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
But who is the Tory rebel and what does the Letwin amendment mean?
Sir Oliver Letwin has tabled an amendment that could force Boris Johnson to seek a delay from the EU
Who is Oliver Letwin?
Sir Oliver Letwin is a Conservative MP for West Dorset.
He was previously the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from 2014 to 2016.
Letwin was given overall responsibility of the cabinet office in 2015 and is a full member of the Cabinet in the Conservative government.
He was originally elected as a member of the Conservative Party but he was expelled after rebelling against the Government on Brexit earlier this year.
Letwin was one of 21 Conservative members expelled that day and has sat in Parliament as an independent since.
During Thatcher’s government, he served as an adviser in her Number 10 policy unit.
But many remember him for playing a key role in Cameron’s Government, and for helping to negotiate the 2010 Coalition with the Liberal Democats.
He also the received a knighthood in 2016 as a member of David Cameron’s resignation honours list.
What is the Letwin amendment?
The Letwin Amendment was put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin, a Tory minister who had the whip removed in September.
It would withhold approval for Boris Johnson’s deal until Parliament has passed the necessary law to enact the agreement.
But crucially, that would trigger the Benn Act, which requires the PM to write a letter to the EU seeking a three-month extension.
Speaking with EU leaders at the EU Summit, Johnson tried to persuade MPs to back his deal by negotiating the removal of a deadline extension with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
But Mr Juncker said: We have a deal so why should we have a prolongation.
We have concluded a deal. So there is not an argument for delay. It has to be done now.
The PM has been adamant several times that he does not wish to ask for a deadline, but has said he will comply with the law if required.
Boris Johnson delivering a statement on his Brexit deal in the House of Commons
Is Oliver Letwin a Remainer?
Yes, he is.
It’s said Letwin is in charge of the Remainer ‘coup’.
What would the Letwin Amendment mean for Brexit?
It would effectively kick the can down the road on Brexit until the necessary legislation has been passed through Parliament, which would be the week after next at the earliest. And it would effectively make the highly-anticipated Commons showdown meaningless.
The move has a broad coalition of support from opposition parties and crucially by several of the sacked Tory rebels such as Philip Hammond and David Gauke. The move is designed to give an insurance policy to MPs who still fear a No Deal Brexit could happen on October 31.
Sir Oliver Letwin and other ex-Tory rebels fear hardline Brexiteer MPs will vote for the deal but then withdraw their support when the legislation is brought to the Commons next week.
If the deal passes today but the Government fails to pass the legislation by October 31 then Britain will leave the EU without a deal on Halloween. But the amendment has the benefit of also attracting support from MPs who want to reverse Brexit.
It would give Labour and other Remainer parties the chance to force through a second referendum as early as next week by attaching an amendment to the Brexit deal legislation.