Parliament vows to foil PM over Brexit

UK Parliament Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow giving a personal statement in the House of Commons in London on Sept 9. Photo: AFP

LONDON: Britain’s parliamentary speaker has warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to disobey the law by refusing to ask for a Brexit delay and vowed to thwart any attempt to circumvent legislation. Parliament passed a law earlier this month aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit, but Johnson is adamant Britain will still leave the EU on schedule on October 31 with or without a withdrawal agreement. The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons John Bercow said disobeying the law “would be the most terrible example to set to the rest of society”, according to Britain’s Press Association news agency.

In a speech in London on Thursday, Bercow warned if the government comes close to doing so, parliament “would want to cut off such a possibility and do so forcefully”. “If that demands additional procedural creativity in order to come to pass, it is a racing certainty that this will happen, and that neither the limitations of the existing rule book nor the ticking of the clock will stop it doing so”.

UK Parliament Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow giving a personal statement in the House of Commons in London on Sept 9. Photo: AFP

His comments came after Johnson denied he had lied to Queen Elizabeth II when requesting a suspension of parliament this month. Johnson asked the British head of state to shutter parliament for five weeks from last Tuesday, claiming it was necessary ahead of rolling out a new domestic agenda. The unusually long suspension — known as prorogation — was widely seen as a bid to thwart opposition to a no-deal departure on the October 31 Brexit date, and provoked uproar across the political spectrum as well as legal challenges.

Asked on Thursday if he had misled Queen Elizabeth over his motives for the suspension, which will see the House of Commons closed until October 14, Johnson said: “Absolutely not”.
Meanwhile in Brussels, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said there was “no reason to be optimistic” about striking any divorce deal with Britain before a crucial October 17-18 EU summit.
Problems are mounting for Johnson, who finds himself increasingly boxed in on Brexit. – AFP