Labour Party to propose law in bid to stop no-deal Brexit

People in London protesting against the suspension of Parliament on Saturday. They were among the thousands of people who joined similar protests across Britain that day.
People in London protesting against the suspension of Parliament on Saturday. They were among the thousands of people who joined similar protests across Britain that day. PHOTO: DPA
An anti-Brexit protester demonstrating at Whitehall in London on Saturday. The Labour Party’s Mr Keir Starmer said that the proposed legislation would force an extension of the Brexit deadline, though he did not say exactly how.
An anti-Brexit protester demonstrating at Whitehall in London on Saturday. The Labour Party’s Mr Keir Starmer said that the proposed legislation would force an extension of the Brexit deadline, though he did not say exactly how. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • The British opposition Labour Party will present legislation this week aimed at stopping the country from leaving the European Union without a deal.

The opposition's Treasury spokesman John McDonnell told the Sky News programme Sophy Ridge On Sunday that its lawmakers were looking to see how they can introduce a legislative measure tomorrow and on Wednesday that will enable them to prevent a no-deal scenario without parliamentary approval.

"The ultimate goal this week is to secure parliamentary sovereignty," he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson caused outrage last Wednesday by suspending Parliament for most of this month and almost half of next month as he continues negotiations with the EU for a new withdrawal agreement.

He also unveiled billions of pounds of new spending on education, social care and transportation, adding to speculation that he is preparing for an election.

Thousands of people on Saturday joined protests across Britain against the decision to suspend Parliament. The demonstrators used the slogan "Stop the Coup" to send their message that the move is undermining centuries of democracy by limiting debate.

Mr Johnson and his senior aides are also discussing whether to deny party affiliation to Tory members who join with Labour's Mr Jeremy Corbyn in an attempt to block a no-deal Brexit, according to the Sunday Times.

Former justice minister David Gauke, who will meet the Prime Minster today with others who oppose crashing out without new arrangements, said it might be a price worth paying. "Sometimes there is a point where you have to judge between your own personal interests and the national interest, and the national interest has to come first," he told Sky. "But I hope it doesn't come to that."

Some Conservative Party members being threatened with expulsion took exception to Mr Johnson's threat, pointing out that they voted with the government on the Withdrawal Agreement while many current ministers did not.

Labour's Mr Keir Starmer said that the proposed legislation would force an extension of the Brexit deadline, though he did not say exactly how. With less than a week before Parliament is adjourned, "this is almost certainly the last chance", he told the BBC.

Mr Michael Gove, the government minister responsible for no-deal Brexit planning, has refused to rule out simply ignoring Parliament's instructions. When asked in a BBC interview if there would be food shortages or if food prices would go up, he said: "People will have the food they need."

Mr Johnson is promising that Britain will leave the EU on Oct 31, "do or die".

Meanwhile, the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said yesterday that he was "not optimistic" about avoiding a no-deal scenario in an opinion piece for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

While Mr Gove has said he hopes there is not an election on the horizon, the Conservative Party has extended its lead over Labour in the latest Daily Mail poll.

Asked if his Labour Party was ready for an election, Mr McDonnell said: "Bring it on."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2019, with the headline 'Labour Party to propose law in bid to stop no-deal Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe