Jeremy Corbyn vows to go all out against no-deal Brexit

PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Jeremy CorbynPHOTO: REUTERS

He seeks to call election, even as govt braces itself for 'meltdown'

LONDON • British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to do "everything necessary" to prevent a no-deal Brexit amid reports that the government is preparing for a three-month "meltdown" at British ports if Britain crashes out of the European Union.

He also pushed for Parliament to be recalled early to discuss it - an idea ruled out by the government yesterday.

Mr Corbyn renewed his promise to call a no-confidence vote in the government and, if successful, form a temporary administration to call an election. Labour, he said in a speech in Corby, central England, would promise to hold a second referendum because opinions have hardened in the past three years.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron this week that the EU must offer an acceptable new deal or face Britain leaving without one.

The Sunday Times newspaper cited leaked documents showing the government is preparing for shortages of food and medicine, as well as a hard Irish border, in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

"No outcome will now have legitimacy without the people's endorsement," Mr Corbyn said. Labour will "give voters the final say with credible options on both sides, including the option to remain".

Mr Corbyn, who sidestepped a question on whether he would step down as leader, said his party will do "everything necessary to stop a disastrous no-deal, for which this government has no mandate".

LET VOTERS HAVE FINAL SAY

No outcome will now have legitimacy without the people's endorsement.

MR JEREMY CORBYN, promising that Labour will "give voters the final say with credible options on both sides, including the option to remain".

When Parliament returns next month, "this country is heading into a political and constitutional storm", he added.

Taking questions from the press afterwards, Mr Corbyn agreed with his finance spokesman John McDonnell, who said yesterday that Parliament should return early from its summer recess in the coming days to discuss the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

But Mr Johnson's spokesman ruled it out in a briefing to reporters yesterday morning.

Mr McDonnell was responding to a question on BBC radio about the group of more than 100 lawmakers, including Labour backbenchers, who have written to Mr Johnson to make that request. Parliament is due to resume on Sept 3.

"It's a good initiative by this group of MPs to say that we need to get back into Parliament," Mr McDonnell said. "We're facing a critical issue here and we should be debating it in Parliament."

Former Sainsbury chief executive Justin King said the Oct 31 Brexit deadline comes at just about the worst time of the year for the food-supply chain, and that the document leaked to The Sunday Times on the impact of a no-deal Brexit presages a major crisis.

 
 
 

"Anything other than silky smooth at our borders, particular(ly) at Dover-Calais, is going to have very significant impacts on the food supply chain in the UK," Mr King told BBC radio.

By the end of October, food is already being stored up for Christmas, leaving little spare capacity to stockpile in anticipation of border delays, he said.

The document leaked to The Sunday Times detailing the anticipated impact of a no-deal Brexit - including port delays and fuel shortages - shows just how "incredibly serious for our economy" such an outcome would be, Confederation of British Industry director-general Carolyn Fairbairn told BBC radio yesterday.

"Business does have to prepare, but above all else, what this does show is we must be trying to get a deal - and that must be the No. 1 priority of government," Ms Fairbairn said, adding that Britain has become more prepared in recent weeks for "the short-run disruption".

"If you have any delays at borders, that would be significant. I think what we can't be prepared for, though, is the long-run impact of a fundamental change in our competitiveness," she said.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2019, with the headline 'Corbyn vows to go all out against no-deal Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe