'Parliament's once-in-a-generation Saturday sitting is an opportunity for a second referendum'

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn at The Great Northern Stop Brexit Conference, The Met Hotel, Leeds. Photo: JPI Media
Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn at The Great Northern Stop Brexit Conference, The Met Hotel, Leeds. Photo: JPI Media
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Parliament sitting on a Saturday for the first time in a generation will be an opportunity for MPs to seize control of the Commons, a Yorkshire MP has said.

Hilary Benn, Leeds Central MP and Chairman of the Brexit Select Committee has been at the epicentre of rows about Brexit.

A law colloquially known as the Benn Act was tabled by him and passed, which means if Boris Johnson does not secure a deal with the EU he must ask them for an extension.

Now Mr Benn has said when MPs sit on Saturday, OCtober 19 for a special sitting - the first since the outbreak of the Falklands War - there was an "opportunity" for MPs to try to secure a majority in the Commons for a second referendum.

Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight yesterday, Mr Benn said: “If Parliament is going to be meeting we have shown our capacity as Parliamentarians to take control of the order paper, so we won’t be meeting just to sit and see what the Prime Minister has in store for us, this is an opportunity - if we can get a majority and that is a big if - for Parliament to say we can find a way forward, a confirmatory referendum is the way to do it, let’s go and ask the British people finally to take the decision."

Earlier in the day Mr Benn told the World At One programme: "I'm very happy to see Parliament sit on October 19, because there will be a lot of people in London calling precisely for that confirmatory referendum."

Asked if he accepted the price of ruling out no deal has been that it is harder for the Prime Minister to get a deal, Mr Benn replied: "No, I don't accept that, because the Act (the so-called Benn Act) was very carefully structured to give the Prime Minister the opportunity to negotiate a deal with the European Union if he could.

"And the problem, the reason why it looks like the talks aren't going anywhere, is that he has broken with what had been the consensus between the United Kingdom and the EU that whatever happened the open border in Northern Ireland had to be maintained."

Mr Benn said the problem is "of the Prime Minister's own making", adding: "What Downing Street is doing is trying to blame everyone else - the EU, Germany, the Act, and all of those other things - but actually it is the Prime Minister who has brought this mess upon himself."