Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Corbyn slams Johnson as snap poll speculation mounts

Reuters, SALFORD, England, and The Guardian

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gives a keynote speech on Brexit in Salford, England, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said that his party wants a new election above all else to oust British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “phony, populist cabal,” renewing his support for moves to stop a no-deal Brexit.

In a wide-ranging speech that did little to dampen expectations that an election could be called soon, Corbyn said his party would do everything it could to stop Johnson from leading Britain out of the EU without an agreement.

That meant his party would support “legislative moves” to prevent a no-deal Brexit in parliament today, in what he described as possibly the last chance for lawmakers to stop a “disastrous” exit from the EU for Britain.

In a critical week for the future of Brexit, Corbyn denied that there was an “either/or” decision on backing parliamentary moves or pressing for an election.

“We will do everything we can in the coming weeks to prevent a no deal. We want a general election so that the people of this country can decide their future,” Corbyn told an audience of Labour’s top policy chiefs and local politicians in Salford, northern England.

“A vote of no confidence is very much there on the table, it’s not an either or, both options are absolutely there,” he said.

With the future of Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the EU more unclear than ever, the Conservative Party and Labour have been preparing for a possible early election to try to overcome deep Brexit divisions in parliament.

Johnson, who became prime minister last month, upped the ante when he moved to reduce the amount of time lawmakers will have to try to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

His threat to kick out anti-no deal Conservative lawmakers who vote against his government has only heightened tensions and increased the possibility of an election.

Speculation is mounting that he could call a snap general election if backbench rebels succeed in passing a bill to delay Brexit, with a Downing Street source saying the issue would be treated as “an expression of confidence” in the government.

At press time, ministers were being summoned for an emergency Cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon, before Johnson is to address Conservative MPs at a No 10 drinks reception.

Senior sources among the cross-party group of rebels say they believe Johnson could seek a snap general election as early as tomorrow, asking for the two-thirds majority needed in the House of Commons under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

The sources suggested the vote would come with a commitment that polling day would be before Oct. 31, though the date would ultimately be in the control of the government.

The backbench rebels, spearheaded by the Conservative former ministers David Gauke and Philip Hammond and the backbenchers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, are expected to attempt to take control of the House of Commons agenda today.

They would then seek to push through a bill mandating an extension to Brexit before parliament is suspended at the end of the week.

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