Saturday, 21 September, 2019

UK Parliament again rejects snap election

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seen at a joint news conference Monday with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin. Johnson has suffered a rough couple of weeks as lawmakers scuttled first his attempt to maintain a hard Brexit deadline — then Drama and protests as UK's Johnson handed defeats ahead of Parliament break
Deanna Wagner | 10 September, 2019, 21:48

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suffered another humiliating defeat in Britain's Parliament after his second bid for a snap general election was rejected by MPs.

If, as expected, MPs reject the Government's attempt to call an election, he said he would quit on October 31.

The vote on Boris Johnson's snap election motion has yet to take place, but as anyone who's ever worked on a newspaper knows, deadlines are deadlines.

Johnson, who succeeded Theresa May as prime minister in July after she failed three times to get Parliament to agree to a Brexit deal, kicked out 21 members of his Conservative Party and saw two of his cabinet ministers quit the government, including his younger brother, Jo Johnson, since the chamber returned from its summer break on September 3.

In Monday's vote, MPs also asked the government to publish communications, including WhatsApp messages and private emails, from certain advisers relating to Johnson's decision to suspend parliament for five weeks.

There were acrimonious scenes in the House of Commons on Monday night as opposition MPs staged a protest against the prorogation that speaker John Bercow said represented "an act of executive fiat"; some sang songs and raised slogans of "shame, shame".

"And the prime minister appears to want to run away from questions".

The issuing of a joint statement from Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson wasn't part of the original plan for yesterday's carefully choreographed visit.

Johnson was also heavily criticised for ignoring the new law and curbing any parliamentary oversight by suspending the parliament until 14 October.

Johnson's official spokesman stressed on Monday morning that he would abide by the law but also refuse to request any delay.

Alex Cunningham, a shadow housing minister, wrote: "I am appalled that Johnson is shutting down parliament at a time of national crisis, but it's not just Brexit - it's the NHS starved of cash, increasing crime, education with schools desperate for more resources, housing, poverty, poor wages, cuts in council services and much more".

The prime minister, who vowed to take his country out of the European Union (EU) on October 31 with or without a deal, moved to stop parliament sitting until October 14 and repeatedly refused to countenance any delay to Brexit.

"I will not ask for another delay", Johnson said.

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The British prime minister has had a turbulent time recently. It is being challenged in court by opponents who say it is anti-democratic and illegal.

His predecessor, Theresa May, reached an agreement with Brussels a year ago but MPs rejected it three times.

Von der Leyen said the European Union is ready for a no-deal Brexit that would see tariffs and other impediments imposed on trade between the bloc and Britain.

Cummings believes such an action will only strengthen the Tories' position and even hand Tories an election victory because, in his words, "Most MPs do not understand how much the country hates Parliament and wants someone to sort out this mess".

Leading left-wing tabloid, the Daily Mirror, calls Johnson "Britain's worst prime minister", and goads him for his numerous losses.

If both sides fail to reach a deal, Johnson will not ask for another extension.

However, he says he believes an agreement is still possible before a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels on 17-18 October, in time to leave on 31 October.

That agreement was not approved by Parliament and Mr. Johnson has said that he wants the backstop scrapped because it ties Britain too closely with the EU.

His wafer-thin majority in the Commons vanished last week when he expelled 21 of his own Conservative MPs for voting with Labour on the anti-no deal legislation.

Mr Johnson said he understood the "conundrum" Brexit has caused for Ireland and the "fantastic political importance and sensitivities of the border".

He accused Johnson of being "obsessed with running down the clock" on Brexit and claimed he "cannot be trusted".

The turmoil deepened when Bercow announced that he will step down by October 31 at the latest - with a few shots aimed at the government in his speech.

The vote is binding on the Government, but had been strongly opposed by ministers who said there were concerns about the scope of the documents requested, and that they had been sufficiently clear on the subject.