Brexit: Opposition Leaders Agree to Delay Election, in New Blow to Johnson




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By Babatunde Abdulfatah

Senior British opposition lawmakers on Friday agreed to vote against Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call to hold a snap election on Oct. 15, making his parliamentary motion almost certain to fail.

The agreement between the leaders of Labour, the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Liberal Democrats and other lawmakers makes it almost certain that Johnson will not win the two-thirds majority he needs, in a vote scheduled for Monday, for the election to go ahead.

In another blow to Johnson, parliament’s unelected upper house, the Lords, approved an opposition bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.

“An early general election is now a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ – but Johnson mustn’t be allowed to dictate the timing as a device to avoid scrutiny and force through a ‘no deal’ Brexit,’’ SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, tweeted after the agreement.

Sturgeon said the SNP wants an election but believes “it is in the wider public interest to deny a PM threatening to defy the law any ability to cut and run in his own interests’’.

“And when the election does come – as it soon will – @theSNP will put Scotland’s opposition to Brexit and our right to choose our own future as an independent nation at the very heart of the contest,’’ she added.

Earlier Friday, during a visit to Scotland, Johnson tweeted a video, urging voters to be “more positive about the UK and what we can do’’.

“And all I see is Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the SNP clubbing together to try and lock us into the EU when it’s time to get this (Brexit) thing done,’’ Johnson said.

He said he wants to lift the “negativity about this country, about what it can do and about Brexit’’.

The bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit, which Johnson strongly opposed, is expected to receive royal assent – allowing it to become law – on Monday.

Parliament’s elected main house, the Commons, approved the bill on Wednesday, despite Johnson claiming it “would mean years of uncertainty and delay’’ because it requires a further postponement to Brexit.

In better news for Johnson, the High Court on Friday rejected a challenge to his plan to suspend parliament, in the second of several legal cases over the proposal.

The court allowed the litigants, who include anti-Brexit legal activist, Gina Miller, and former Conservative Prime Minister John Major, to appeal to the Supreme Court on Sept. 17.

“We will not give way,’’ Miller told reporters after the ruling.

“To give up now would be a dereliction of our responsibility,’’ she said.

“We feel it is absolutely vital that parliament should be sitting.’’

Johnson said last week that he wanted to prorogue, or suspend, parliament from mid-September to mid-October and then submit his government programme for a new session.

But critics accused him of trying to use prorogation to limit scrutiny ahead of his promised deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, with or without a deal, on Oct. 31.

More than 1.7 million people have supported an online petition to the British parliament against prorogation. 

(dpa/NAN)

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