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Johnson refuses to rule out suspending Parliament

By Jonathan Powell in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-08-28 00:13

Lawmakers gather on Tuesday to discuss stopping a no-deal Brexit. Labour Party members (from left), Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Valerie Vaz, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow chancellor John McDonnell. [Photo/Agencies]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to rule out suspending Parliament in an effort to force through a no-deal Brexit, while Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn warned that, without a deal, the United Kingdom would be at the "mercy" of the United States.

At the closing news conference of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Johnson said it was the job of all members of Parliament to deliver Brexit by the end of October.

"I think it's the job of everybody in Parliament to get this thing done," he said.

"I think it's what the people want, I also think, by the way, it's what our friends and partners on the other side of the Channel want – they want it over."

Asked if he would commit to not suspending Parliament, Johnson avoided the question and repeated his demand for the backstop, the contingency plan to retain close ties with the European Union to prevent a hard border with Ireland, to be scrapped.

On Sunday, Johnson had told the BBC the chances of securing a new Brexit deal were "touch and go" – but on Monday he said: "I am marginally more optimistic."

He continued: "But, remember that all statistical estimates that I give about the chances of a deal – whether they are expressed in odds of millions to one, or getting closer, or hotter or colder, or whatever – they all depend exclusively on the willingness of our friends and partners to compromise on that crucial point and to get rid of the backstop and the current withdrawal agreement."

Writing in the Independent newspaper, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn warned a no-deal Brexit "will not return sovereignty" to the UK, but that it will put the country at the "mercy" of US President Donald Trump.

Corbyn said that exiting the EU without a deal would leave the UK vulnerable to "big US corporations dying to get their teeth into our NHS", and also "sound the death knell for our steel industry, and strip back our food standards and animal welfare protections.

"A Trump deal would work for Johnson's donors, and against the rest of us."

Corbyn met on Tuesday with senior MPs from other opposition parties to discuss ways to avoid the UK leaving the EU without a deal on Oct 31.

The attendees agreed on the urgency to act together to find practical ways to prevent no-deal, including the possibility of passing legislation or a vote of no confidence.

If he were to win a no confidence vote, Corbyn plans to become a caretaker prime minister, delay Brexit, call a snap election and campaign for another referendum.

However, Johnson reiterated his determination to stop Corbyn becoming prime minister.

"One of my many missions in life is to protect the people of this country from the appalling consequences of a Labour government," Johnson said.

He added that Corbyn, if in power, "would also renege, reject, revoke the mandate of the people".

"I cannot think of anything worse for democracy or for trust in politics and I very much hope that does not happen," he said.

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