Sat, Sep 07, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Boris Johnson in election mode as he visits Scotland

AFP, LONDON

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson headed to Scotland in campaign mode yesterday, despite failing to call an early election after lawmakers this week thwarted his hardline Brexit strategy.

Johnson, who plans to make a fresh attempt next week to force a snap election next month, is set to visit a fish market and announce a post-Brexit funding boost for Scottish farmers during a visit to Aberdeenshire, his office said.

He is then to stay at Queen Elizabeth II’s Balmoral estate and dine with her, an annual weekend-long tradition for prime ministers, but one that Johnson has been forced to cut short to a single night due to the political turmoil in Westminster.

Opposition lawmakers and rebels in his ruling Conservative Party on Wednesday left Johnson’s plans for a no-deal Brexit next month in tatters and then blocked a request for a snap election on Oct. 15.

Under British law, the government requires two-thirds of lawmakers to support holding such a poll.

The main opposition Labour Party abstained on the proposal, saying that parliament must first approve its legislation to prevent Britain leaving the EU without an agreement on Oct. 31.

The government has said it would make a second attempt to force it through next week.

“What I want to do now is to give the country a choice,” Johnson said on Thursday during a campaign-style visit to northern England, where he greeted voters and delivered a speech.

His trip to Scotland, where voters backed remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum and the Tories face a struggle to hold 13 parliamentary seats there in any upcoming election, appears part of a strategy to pressure Labour to cave into his demand.

The House of Lords was yesterday set to approve the legislation, which compels Johnson to seek a three-month extension from Brussels if he cannot agree to a divorce deal at an EU summit on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18.

It is then expected to become law on Monday.

Johnson on Thursday said that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit and is pushing for the election in the hope of winning a fresh mandate for his approach.

Lawmakers rushed the bill through parliament ahead of a five-week shutdown the prime minister controversially ordered last month, which was widely seen as a pre-emptive attempt to prevent such legislation.

The decision to suspend parliament provoked uproar from Johnson’s critics, who called it a “constitutional outrage,” and several legal challenges.

Three High Court judges were yesterday expected to rule on its legality after Gina Miller, a businesswoman and leading anti-Brexit campaigner, applied for a judicial review.

A judge in Scotland ruled in favor of Johnson on Wednesday in a separate challenge.

Johnson argues that his threat to leave with or without a deal will force EU leaders to agree to better terms.

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