Brexit Live Updates: Battles Over Deadlines and a General Election

Loading ....

Legislation that would require Britain to seek another Brexit extension from the European Union if there is no withdrawal agreement by Oct. 31 is expected to become law on Monday, a move that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has bitterly opposed.

The opposition Labour Party and others have insisted that they will not consider Mr. Johnson’s request to hold a general election until a no-deal Brexit has been ruled out. They will get their wish once the legislation receives the queen’s approval.

That will set the stage for another battle: whether, and when, to hold a general election.

The expected success of the legislation is due in no small part to the decision last week by 21 members of Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party to defy him on the question of whether to leave without a deal. They were expelled from the party for their defiance.

The Tory revolt against Mr. Johnson, and his ruthless purging of the rebels, have reverberated through British politics, threatening his hold on power.

The prime minister and many of his allies say that Britain must preserve the possibility of leaving without a deal in order to maintain leverage in negotiations with Brussels. Opponents of a no-deal withdrawal say it simply cannot be considered because of the potentially catastrophic consequences for the British economy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to try again on Monday to call a general election, a move that is expected to suffer the same fate as a first effort that fell short last week.

Mr. Johnson’s working majority has quickly evaporated, and new elections would give him a chance to re-establish a stable power base. But mistrust among his opponents is so high that they will not support a new vote until the no-deal legislation is locked in.

That has created an unusual situation in which his opponents, who would normally jump at a chance to vote him out of office, are fighting an attempt to hold a new election, which can only happen after a two-thirds majority in Parliament supports it.

“It’s the most sensational paradox,” Mr. Johnson, who came to power less than two months ago, said on Friday. “Never in history has the opposition party been given the chance for election and has turned it down.”

Many lawmakers in the opposition Labour Party want to wait at least until November to hold a new election. They fear that a strong victory in October would allow Mr. Johnson to reverse any no-deal legislation.

The battle over an extension has raised the specter of whether Mr. Johnson would risk jail to get his way.

Mr. Johnson has made clear that he wants to complete Brexit by the end of October, declaring that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask the European Union for another delay. But legal experts have warned that he could face jail time if he refused to abide by the bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit, which was approved on Friday and is set to become law on Monday.

On Saturday, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said, “We’re in quite extraordinary territory when the prime minister says he is above the law.”

A former top prosecutor, Lord MacDonald, told Sky News that if Mr. Johnson refused to request an extension, “that would amount to contempt of court, which could find that person in prison.”

The government appears willing to “test to the limit” the new law, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab telling reporters that the government would abide by the law, but it would also “look very carefully” at its “interpretation” of the “bad” legislation.

Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, quit her government post and the Conservative Party over the weekend, saying she was appalled at the expulsion of 21 colleagues and had realized that leaving the European Union with a deal was no longer “the government’s main objective.”

In a withering letter to the prime minister dated Sept. 7, Ms. Rudd wrote, “I joined your cabinet in good faith: accepting that ‘No Deal’ had to be on the table, because it was the means by which we would have the best chance of achieving a new deal to leave on 31 October.

“However I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective.”

She added: “The government is expending a lot of energy to prepare for ‘No Deal,’ but I have not seen the same level of intensity go into our talks with the European Union.”

On Sunday, she told Andrew Marr of the BBC, “I am saying that 80 to 90 percent of the work that I can see going on the E.U. relationship is about preparation for no deal.”

“It’s about disproportion,” she added. “The purpose of this resignation is to make the point that the Conservative Party at its best should be a moderate party that embraces people with different views of the E.U.”

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab rejected that view, telling Sky News that “intense negotiations” were continuing with Brussels. “People need to understand, and the voters get it,” he said, “that we’ve got to keep to the plan.”

The Conservatives said on Sunday that they would field a candidate to challenge Speaker John Bercow in the next general election, accusing Mr. Bercow of breaking the rules by allowing Parliament to take control of the Brexit process and hobble the government’s position.

The move would be a break with longtime convention.

Writing in the The Mail on Sunday, Andrea Leadsom, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, accused Mr. Bercow of “a flagrant abuse of this process” and of “giving power to the opposition.”

“Bring back an impartial speaker,” she declared.

Last year, when Ms. Leadsom was leader of the House of Commons, Mr. Bercow was accused of calling her a “stupid woman” and “useless.” He admitted to muttering the words during a disagreement but denied insulting her personally.

Michael Wolgelenter, Yonette Joseph and Megan Specia contributed reporting.

Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here