Mon, Jul 22, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Johnson bracing to navigate Brexit

AFP, LONDON

A blimp depicting Boris Johnson is pictured in London on Saturday.

Photo: AP

Former British secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs Boris Johnson is expected to become the UK’s next prime minister this week, vowing to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 come what may, in the face of fierce opposition in British parliament.

The former London mayor is the runaway favorite to win the ruling Conservative Party’s leadership contest and replace British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.

The postal ballot of 160,000 grassroots party members is expected to return Johnson, 55, as the new Conservative leader over British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt when the result is announced tomorrow.

Any remaining ballots must be delivered by today at 5pm. Bookmakers give Hunt about a one in 15 chance of victory.

The center-right Conservatives command a razor-thin majority in the British House of Commons and Johnson’s opponents — both within and outside the party — are keen to scupper his leadership.

Opponents of Brexit, and especially of a no-deal departure, are plotting moves against Johnson.

Some Conservatives have hinted that they are prepared to bring down their own government rather than accept leaving the EU without a deal.

British Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke said he would quit the government if Johnson became prime minister.

He told the Sunday Times newspaper that a no-deal Brexit would cause national “humiliation.”

The newspaper reported that up to six pro-EU Conservative lawmakers were considering defecting to the centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats should Johnson win — leaving him without a legislative majority.

Pro-EU protesters on Saturday rallied in central London in anticipation of Johnson taking office.

The “No to Boris, yes to Europe” protest saw a giant balloon of Johnson flying outside parliament.

“I want to be on the right side of history. I think anybody who considers Brexit to be a good solution, really hasn’t considered the facts,” protester Tamara Bishop said.

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