Philip Hammond, the chancellor, discussed plans this week with fellow opponents of a no-deal Brexit in his office in the House of Commons. I have no inside intelligence of what was said, but it was something like the following.
The first line of defence is that parliament can pass laws against the wishes of a prime minister. This happened in April when, even though Theresa May had said she would ask for an extension to the Brexit timetable, the Cooper-Letwin act was passed to make absolutely sure that she did so.
The question is how to get such legislation started if the government provides no legislation or motion of its own that could be amended, and if it refuses to allow an opposition day before the end of October.
The answer to that is an application for an emergency debate, under standing order 24. It would be unprecedented for the speaker to allow such a debate to be used to propose, and vote on, a motion to take control of the parliamentary timetable, but anyone who thinks John Bercow wouldn’t do it hasn’t been paying attention.