Labour to seek Brexit extension in Parliament - GulfToday

Labour to seek Brexit extension in Parliament


Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Brexit Keir Starmer appears on BBC TV’s The Andrew Marr Show in London on Sunday. Reuters

The UK Labour Party’s chief Brexit adviser says opposition plans to block a “no-deal” Brexit will require another extension to Article 50 so the Oct.31 deadline doesn’t take effect.

Keir Starmer told the BBC on Sunday that the legislation to be introduced in Parliament will focus on an extension of the deadline to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from leaving the European Union without a deal.

He says the length of the extension is “secondary” because the top priority is preventing a disorderly departure on Oct.31.

Current plans call for Britain to leave the EU on that date unless Britain formally asks for an extension and each of the bloc’s other 27 nations agree.

Britain’s Parliament only has a short time to deal with the situation. Johnson plans to suspend Parliament for part of the time during the run-up to the Brexit deadline.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who is heading up “no-deal” preparations, declined on Sunday to commit the government to following Parliament’s lead. Asked if the government would adhere to legislation that might be passed that would block a disorderly exit, he said only: “Let’s see what the legislation says.”

He said he would “wait to see” the details of any opposition plan.

Johnson and his top advisers are planning to meet with recalcitrant legislators from his own Conservative Party to try to keep them from supporting the opposition’s efforts to prevent “no-deal.”

The issue is expected to dominate debate when Parliament convenes on Tuesday after a lengthy summer recess.

Johnson has pledged to deliver Brexit with or without a deal, but opposition lawmakers — and several from his own Conservatives — want to push through legislation to rule out no-deal during a narrow window of opportunity before parliament is suspended in little over a week’s time.

“Obviously, if we are at the 31st of October, that will require an extension,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.

“But I think this should be a very short, simple exercise designed to ensure we don’t crash out without a deal.”

Gove, one of Johnson’s key ministers who is co-ordinating no-deal contingency plans, said he believed a majority of lawmakers would back the prime minister and defeat the attempt.

“We know the prime minister is making progress with our European friends and allies in attempting to secure a deal, and I don’t believe that people will want to erect a roadblock in his way,” he said.

David Gauke, a former British justice secretary and a Johnson critic, said he would meet the prime minister on Monday to hear his plan to deliver a Brexit deal he could support.

But he said he was prepared to disobey Conservative Party discipline and lose the whip if he was not persuaded.

“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 News.

“But I hope it doesn’t come to that.” Johnson said told the Sunday Times that those backing the opposition to no-deal risked there being no Brexit at all.

“Are you going to side with those who want to scrub the democratic verdict of the people - and plunge this country into chaos?” he said.

“Or are you going to side with those of us who want to get on, deliver on the mandate of the people and focus with absolute, laser-like precision on the domestic agenda? That’s the choice.”

EU negotiator Michel Barnier said in an interview published on Sunday the bloc will not change the divorce deal agreed with Britain as MPs prepare for a showdown week over Brexit.

Barnier insisted the agreement’s most contentious element, a so-called backstop mechanism to keep the Northern Irish border open in all post-Brexit circumstances, must remain in place.

“The backstop is the maximum amount of flexibility that the EU can offer,” Barnier wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, following what he called “intense discussions” among member states.

He added he was “not optimistic” of avoiding Britain crashing out of the European Union without an agreement on Oct.ober 31.

The stance is an apparent setback for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who since taking power in July has called for the backstop to be scrapped.


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