LONDON (Reuters) – British opposition parties said on Friday that they would block Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s second bid to call a snap general election in mid-October, setting up showdown with the government over delaying Brexit.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits as results of the vote are announced during debate in the House of Commons in London, Britain September 4, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
Brexit remains up in the air more than three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc in a 2016 referendum. Options range from a turbulent no-deal exit to abandoning the whole endeavour.
British lawmakers are due on Monday to hold another vote on a motion on whether to hold an early election, probably in mid-October, just over two weeks before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31.
But opposition parties, including the Labour Party, said they would either vote against or abstain until a law aiming to block a no-deal Brexit is implemented.
A Labour Party source said it would not back Johnson’s bid on Monday for an election under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.
“We will have that election when the time is right but I will make you this promise, we are not going to have a long wait,” Ian Blackford told BBC television, adding that his opposition Scottish National Party (SNP) party would oppose Johnson’s bid on Monday.
Johnson has said he would rather die in a ditch than delay Brexit and has cast the opposition parties’ bill aiming to stop a no-deal Brexit as a surrender to the EU that he would never go along with.
“I’ll go to Brussels, I’ll get a deal and we’ll make sure we come out on October 31, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Johnson said. When asked if he would resign if he could not deliver that, he said:
“That is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate.”
As opposition parties and Johnson’s government haggle over an election date, British politics was in turmoil just over six weeks into Johnson’s premiership.
England’s High Court on Friday rejected a legal challenge against Johnson’s suspension of parliament before Brexit but said it could be taken to the Supreme Court for a final appeal.
John Major, a former prime minister who supported the court challenge, said Brexit was a deceit that would undermine the United Kingdom’s standing and could even split it asunder.
“Brexit will reduce our global reach, not enhance it,” Major said. “Once outside Europe, we British will have little or no voice. We are not used to being outside the inner circles of decision-making – and we will hate it.”
Major said Johnson should fire Dominic Cummings, the advisor behind his high-stakes Brexit strategy whom Major cast as a “political anarchist”.
When asked about Major’s call, Cummings told Reuters: “Really? Trust the people.”
Additional reporting by Kate Holton, Alistair Smout, James Davey and Paul Sandle; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton and Jon Boyle