MPs are more likely to prevent a no-deal Brexit in the court of public opinion than via parliamentary procedure, a leading think tank has said.

The Institute for Government (IFG) said MPs had very limited opportunities to stop Boris Johnson pushing through a no-deal when they return to the Commons early next month.

It said that even if the Prime Minister lost a vote of no-confidence he could plough on regardless, echoing the view of Mr Johnson’s controversial top aide, Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings reportedly told his colleagues that opponents of no-deal had left it too late to stop it happening on October 31.

In its report, the IFG said there was now less time for MPs to make their voices heard, or gain control of Commons business, than before the original Brexit deadline of March 29.

It said the law underpinning Brexit, the EU Withdrawal Act, which had required a “meaningful vote” by MPs, no longer offered a weak flank because of the passage of time.

“It is now of no use to MPs who want to express their view on no-deal; if Johnson is set on no-deal he will not need to schedule any further meaningful votes,” the report said.

In the end, the report suggested, the greatest constraint on Mr Johnson may be the political pressures involved in defying the will of the Commons rather than any of the parliamentary devices open to MPs.

“Acting explicitly against the will of Parliament could make it extremely difficult for Johnson to govern in the aftermath of no-deal, even if he manages to hold on to office,” it said.

“The Prime Minister could try to face down Parliament and trigger an election, but that prospect comes with a high risk of losing office, and he may decide it is too high a price to pay.”

The report said MPs could use opposition day debates or backbench business motions to express opposition to a no-deal, but these would be non-binding and lack “legal teeth”.

While Speaker John Bercow has said ministers should respect the opinion of the House, the new Leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has suggested the Government need not pay attention to “mere motions”.

Opponents of no-deal would still have the “nuclear option” of trying to pass a vote of no confidence in the Government, although the report said that there were “risks” here too.

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, if the Government loses there would be 14 days for Mr Johnson to win another confidence vote or for an alternative government to be formed, otherwise there has to be an election.

However Mr Johnson could set the polling day for after October 31, letting no-deal happen by default.

The report said such a tactic may be possible but highly contentious and potentially open to legal challenge.

“Any attempt by a Prime Minister who has just lost a no confidence vote and so, by convention, is acting only in a caretaker capacity to use their powers in this way would be hugely controversial, both politically and constitutionally,” it said.

Alternatively, if MPs did succeed in forming an alternative government, it would still need to go to Brussels to get another Brexit extension from the EU with time rapidly running out.