British MPs press Johnson to recall Parliament over Brexit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Germany and France to compromise on Brexit, cautioning that the UK would be ready to leave the EU without a deal on Oct 31 if necessary. But Jeremy Corbyn warned he will do all he can to stop no-deal.
Protest group Farmers for a People’s Vote herding a flock of sheep past government buildings in Whitehall, London, last Thursday to protest against the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the farming community. In a YouGov survey, some 49 per cent of res
Protest group Farmers for a People’s Vote herding a flock of sheep past government buildings in Whitehall, London, last Thursday to protest against the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the farming community. In a YouGov survey, some 49 per cent of respondents said Britain leaving the EU without a deal would be an unacceptable outcome.PHOTO: DPA
Protest group Farmers for a People's Vote herding a flock of sheep past government buildings in Whitehall, London, last Thursday to protest against the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the farming community. In a YouGov survey, some 49 per cent of respo
Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that Britain must leave the EU on Oct 31, with or without a divorce deal with Brussels.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Opposition leader seeking vote of no-confidence as Oct 31 looms

LONDON • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under pressure yesterday to recall lawmakers immediately from their summer holiday so that Parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 Members of Parliament have written to Mr Johnson to urge him to reconvene and let them sit permanently until Oct 31 - the date that Britain is due to leave the European Union.

The MPs are not due to return until Sept 3.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt Britain's departure from the EU. "We face a national emergency, and Parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their respective annual conferences during the September break.

Mr Johnson - whose Conservative Party government commands a one-seat majority - insists that Britain must leave the EU on Oct 31, with or without a divorce deal with Brussels.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no-confidence in Mr Johnson's government after Parliament returns. He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Mr Corbyn said last Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that," he added.

A MATTER OF URGENCY

We face a national emergency, and Parliament must be recalled now.

LETTER FROM 100 MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT AND OPPOSITION PARTY LEADERS, who want to halt Britain's departure from the EU.

Mr Ken Clarke, a veteran Conservative politician who has the title of "Father of the House" for being the British Parliament's longest-serving member, has also expressed his willingness to lead the country for an interim period if the current government is toppled.

"I wouldn't object to it," Mr Clarke said in a BBC interview, when asked whether he would consider the role of interim leader.

He was responding to a suggestion put forward by Ms Jo Swinson, leader of the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, who has refused to back Mr Corbyn.

Meanwhile, a YouGov survey has found that a majority would rather see a no-deal Brexit than the veteran leftist taking over and staging another referendum.

Some 48 per cent said they would rather Britain left the EU without a Brexit deal, with Mr Corbyn remaining in opposition.

Some 35 per cent said they would prefer Mr Corbyn to be prime minister, and hold a second referendum on Britain's EU membership.

Asked about leaving the EU without a deal, 49 per cent said they would consider it an unacceptable outcome, while 38 per cent said it would be acceptable.

Separately, Mr Johnson's girlfriend Carrie Symonds will accompany him when he goes to stay with Queen Elizabeth II at her private Scottish retreat.

Ms Symonds, a public relations expert, will join Mr Johnson at Balmoral next month, the domestic Press Association news agency reported, citing sources.

The monarch traditionally hosts the prime minister for a weekend in September.

It is thought that Ms Symonds will be the first unmarried partner of a sitting prime minister to stay at Balmoral.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


3 ways Johnson could become Britain's shortest-serving prime minister

LONDON • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been in office less than a month, and already, Britain's chattering classes are talking about his demise.

 
 
 

Mr Johnson has promised to get Britain out of the European Union, with or without a Brexit deal, in his first 100 days.

But can he remain in No. 10 Downing Street beyond 119 days - the tenure of the United Kingdom's most fleeting prime minister, George Canning, who served from April to August in 1827?

Perhaps. Mrs Theresa May survived in office for two years after her first round of political obituaries were written.

Here are three scenarios being batted around for how Mr Johnson could go.

1 LOSE NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AND RESIGN

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would call for a no-confidence vote against Mr Johnson to stop an abrupt "no-deal Brexit" - which Mr Johnson has said Britain must prepare for and which economists say could lead to turmoil on both sides of the English Channel.

Mr Corbyn could call for a vote as early as the week of Sept 3, when Members of Parliament return from their summer recess.

How realistic is a Johnson loss?

Well, he has a working majority in Parliament of just one seat, and a few lawmakers from his Conservative Party have indicated that they would consider the nuclear option of voting against their own government if that was what it took to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

But there are also independent lawmakers and Brexit-backing politicians from the Labour Party who might support Mr Johnson in a confidence vote.

To let the hypothetical play out, though: If Mr Johnson lost, lawmakers would have 14 days to form an alternative government that could command a majority in the House of Commons.

Labour's Mr John McDonnell suggested that Mr Corbyn should hop in "a cab to Buckingham Palace to say, 'We're taking over'."

He may not have meant that literally, but Mr Corbyn would certainly try to win the backing of the majority of lawmakers. It is unclear if Mr Corbyn - or anyone else - could muster a majority. But if they did, Mr Johnson would come under extreme pressure to resign.

2 LOSE AN ELECTION

Britain's next general election is scheduled for 2022, but there are a few ways it could end up with one much sooner.

If Mr Johnson lost a confidence vote and if no other viable government emerged in that two-week window, Parliament would be dissolved and an election would be held 25 working days later.

Alternatively, Mr Johnson might want to call an election of his own volition - either to strengthen his mandate to push Brexit through (if Parliament somehow managed to block him) or to capitalise on any bounce after having made Brexit happen.

Mr Johnson has ruled out an election before the Brexit deadline of Oct 31. Some of his allies have reportedly said he could set a date for early November.

3 LOSE A NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE, REFUSE TO RESIGN AND GET SACKED BY QUEEN

The British monarch is famously neutral when it comes to all things politics. But there is speculation that the 93-year-old monarch may get sucked in.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly refused to say what he would do if he lost a no-confidence vote. If Mr Corbyn or someone else formed a viable alternative government, and if Mr Johnson still refused to budge, then some say the Queen could effectively sack Mr Johnson.

University of Cambridge law and public policy professor David Howarth told LBC Radio that the Queen could, in theory, fire Mr Johnson, but that, more likely, Mr Johnson would be asked to step aside so as not to "embarrass" her.

London School of Economics government professor Tony Travers is also among the sceptics. "I find it hard to believe that the Queen as an individual would want to make a decision that changed the government of the country," he said.

WASHINGTON POST

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2019, with the headline 'British MPs press Johnson to recall Parliament over Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe