PM Boris Still Considering Shutting Down Parliament to Safeguard Brexit

BIARRITZ, FRANCE - AUGUST 24: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a press conference in the Bellevue hotel conference room at the conclusion of the G7 summit on August 24, 2019 in Biarritz, France. The French southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz is hosting the 45th G7 summit from August 24 …
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Boris Johnson has said his optimism over getting an agreement for Brexit signed between the United Kingdom and the European Union has grown but stands by earlier remarks that suspending Parliament would be an acceptable option to make sure Brexit is delivered.

Brexit was a major recurring theme at the G7 leaders’ meeting over the weekend, which saw Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting with Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and President Donald Trump. Coming out of the meetings, Johnson said of the prospect of a Brexit deal with the European Union: “I am marginally more optimistic”, reports the Daily Telegraph.

But sounding a cautious note, the Prime Minister continued: “…remember that all statistical estimates that I give about the chances of a deal – whether they are expressed in odds of millions to one, or getting closer, or hotter or colder, or whatever – they all depend exclusively on the willingness of our friends and partners to compromise on that crucial point and to get rid of the backstop and the current withdrawal agreement.”

Johnson also alluded to the view taken in Europe — particularly by France’s Emmanuel Macron — that Brexit is a subject that has been dragging on too long and is preventing the Union from moving forward with its own plans. He said: “They regard Brexit now as an encumbrance, an old argument… They want to talk about the new partnership that we’re going to build.”

Since taking over as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson has set himself to the task of resurrecting Theresa May’s failed withdrawal agreement, a deal dictated to her by Brussels which was rejected by Britain’s Parliament three times. Yet even the modest changes he has attempted to arrange have been essentially rejected by European leaders, who have already decided what deal they want Britain to take.

While Mr Johnson has been clear that he wishes to achieve a deal, as part of his pitch to Conservative Party members to become Prime Minister he also promised “Brexit do or die” by October 31st 2019. This would almost certainly mean taking the United Kingdom out of Europe on World Trade Organisation terms on that date if he failed to persuade Parliament to accept Theresa May’s deal on the fourth attempt.

Yet members of Britain’s predominantly pro-remain Parliament would almost certainly work to prevent the Prime Minister following through on that promise to deliver the decision made in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Knowing this, Mr Johnson has before said that he would consider using the constitutional tools available to him to suspend Parliament to prevent a political coup against the British people — what is in Westminster jargon known as prorogation.

Not ruling out the idea when asked this week, Johnson said: “…I think this is really a matter for parliamentarians to get right. I think that people have just about had enough of this conversation. And I think they are yearning for a moment when Brexit comes off the front pages of the national papers, and that will only happen when we come out of the EU on 31 October, and that is what I am calling on all my fellow MPs to do.”

Speaking at the G7, President Trump also alluded to the possibility that Johnson’s attempts to bargain a new deal may stumble, possibly leading to a full no-deal situation, the outcome preferred by many prominent Brexiteers including Nigel Farage who see Theresa May’s deal as a surrender to Europe and a betrayal of the referendum. The President said: “The EU is very tough to make a deal with… Just ask Theresa May.”

The President also again talked up a major trade deal between the United Kingdom and the United States after Brexit, something that could be difficult to close in a Brexit-deal situation as Europe could still be able to dictate the terms of British trade years into the future.

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