September 22, 2019

UK PM to call election if Brexit strategy defeated: top official

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call elections on October 14 if parliamentarians vote against their Brexit strategy, a senior official said Monday on the eve of a parliamentary confrontation.

Parliamentarians of the Johnson Conservative Party itself are preparing to join opposition lawmakers in a vote on Tuesday to try to force him to delay Brexit if he can’t reach an agreement with Brussels in the coming weeks.

A senior official said that if the government loses the vote, it will present a parliamentary vote on Wednesday to hold early elections.

Under British law, a two-thirds majority is required to hold early elections, but the main opposition Labor Party has already said it would be in favor.

The survey would take place on October 14, to allow a new government to be established before Britain leaves the European Union on October 31.

“The prime minister does not want an election, but that will depend on parliamentarians when they decide to vote tomorrow,” the official said.

Johnson previously expressed the hope of being able to reach an agreement with Brussels to end Britain’s 46-year membership in the EU, but added that he would stick to the Brexit deadline.

“We’re leaving on October 31, without buts,” he said in a challenging statement in front of his Downing Street office.

A group of multiparty parliamentarians is trying to change the law to potentially delay Brexit until January 31, 2020.

They fear that leaving the EU without an agreement may cause a great economic disruption.

He said the chances of reaching a divorce agreement with Brussels “have increased” before a summit of EU leaders on October 17 and 18, adding that this was partly because the block understood that it would leave.

“I want everyone to know: there are no circumstances in which I ask Brussels to delay,” Johnson said.

“Armed and fortified with that conviction, I think we will reach an agreement at that crucial summit in October.”

  • Last chance –

It has been more than three years since the British voted 52 percent to leave the European Union, a period marked by great political turmoil, economic uncertainty and deep divisions both in parliament and throughout the country.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to terms of departure with Brussels last year, but the parliament rejected the agreement, which covered Britain’s financial contributions, EU expatriate rights and the Irish border.

Johnson has repeatedly asked the EU to renegotiate, but so far he has refused, which has led both sides to accelerate preparations for a messy divorce.

Many parliamentarians oppose the “no agreement”, but only have a few days to act.

“We must unite to stop the non-agreement,” Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a speech on Monday, warning: “This week could be our last chance.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of parliamentarians from all parties will seek to take control of the parliamentary schedule to allocate time on Wednesday to discuss their bill that blocks the “no agreement.”

His bill says that if parliamentarians did not approve an EU agreement or endorsed a “no agreement” scenario before October 19, the day after the EU summit, Johnson should look for a delay for Brexit.

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