Re­port: John­son ready to squat in Down­ing Street for Brexit

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The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Global -

Lon­don: Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son is re­port­edly mak­ing plans to vir­tu­ally “squat” in Down­ing Street and refuse to step down even if a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion is passed against him over the on­go­ing Brexit di­vi­sions in the UK Par­lia­ment, a me­dia re­port quot­ing Cabi­net in­sid­ers claimed on Sun­day.

In what would be seen as a ma­jor con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis, Queen El­iz­a­beth II may have to step in and ef­fec­tively sack a sit­ting PM in such a sce­nario as John­son pur­sues his pledge to leave the Euro­pean Union by the Oc­to­ber 31 dead­line, The Sun­day Times re­ports.

Senior aides are quoted in the re­port as say­ing that John­son would not stand aside if his lat­est Brexit pro­pos­als were re­jected by the EU, lead­ing to MPs ral­ly­ing to­gether to try and re­move him in or­der to avert a no-deal crash-out from the eco­nomic bloc. They said John­son was pre­pared to “squat” in Down­ing Street even if MPs de­clare no con­fi­dence in his gov­ern­ment and agree a care­taker PM to re­place him.

There are some re­ports that in­di­cate that the House of Com­mons speaker John Ber­cow may be one such can­di­date for a care­taker PM post but ef­forts are still on to get some­one who can com­mand a strong ma­jor­ity in a di­vided House.

If John­son chose to ig­nore the Benn Act, which was passed by MPs re­cently to avert a ‘We will be pack­ing our bags and walk­ing out on Oct 31,’ PM Boris John­son wrote in The Sun on Sun­day and Sun­day Ex­press news­pa­pers. ‘The only ques­tion is whether Brussels cheer­ily waves us off with a mu­tu­ally agree­able deal or whether we will be forced to head off on our own’

Brexit with­out an agree­ment in place with the EU, it would amount to break­ing the law.

“Un­less the po­lice turn up at the doors of 10 Down­ing Street with a war­rant for the PM’s ar­rest, he won’t be leav­ing,” said a senior aide.

Writ­ing in two other Sun­day news­pa­pers, John­son him­self re­it­er­ated his stance against the con­tro­ver­sial Ir­ish back­stop and said his untested plan to use tech­nol­ogy to elim­i­nate cus­toms bor­der checks would take the UK out of EU trade rules while re­spect­ing the North­ern Ire­land peace process. The back­stop is the con­tro­ver­sial in­sur­ance pol­icy that is meant to keep a free-flow­ing bor­der on the is­land of Ire­land, but which crit­ics led by John­son fear could trap the UK in EU trad­ing rules

in­def­i­nitely. “I say to our Euro­pean friends: grasp the op­por­tu­nity our new pro­posal pro­vides. Join us at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble in a spirit of com­pro­mise and co­op­er­a­tion,” he said.

He claimed MPs from “ev­ery wing of the Con­ser­va­tive Party”, North­ern Ire­land’s Demo­cratic Union­ist Party and from Labour have said “our pro­posed deal looks like one they can get be­hind”. But he said “there will be no more dither and de­lay” and the UK would leave the EU on Oc­to­ber 31with or with­out a deal. John­son’s pro­pos­als would see the UK ter­ri­tory of North­ern Ire­land ef­fec­tively stay within the EU sin­gle mar­ket for goods but leave the com­mon Cus­toms Union. But the EU has in­di­cated that it would not be ac­cept­able to all the mem­ber-coun­tries. Lon­don: Bri­tain hinted on Sun­day that it could be open to changes to its lat­est Brexit pro­pos­als for North­ern Ire­land, as Euro­pean lead­ers piled pres­sure on PM Boris John­son to re­vise the plans.

Brexit sec­re­tary Stephen Bar­clay re­it­er­ated that the ideas for­mally sub­mit­ted to Brussels this week were “a broad land­ing zone” to be dis­cussed dur­ing “in­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions in the com­ing days”.

He urged the bloc to show “creativ­ity and flex­i­bil­ity” to se­cure a deal ahead of Oc­to­ber 31 — when John­son has vowed Bri­tain will end its EU mem­ber­ship with or with­out an agree­ment.

“We’ve set out very se­ri­ous pro­pos­als in­clud­ing com­pro­mise on our side,” said Bar­clay. “We do need to get into the in­ten­sive ne­go­ti­a­tions on the text to clar­ify what the deal is.”

Bar­clay added the gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing hold­ing a par­lia­men­tary vote ahead of a make-or-break EU sum­mit on Oc­to­ber 17-18 to show bloc lead­ers that John­son’s plans have MPs’ sup­port. But Euro­pean lead­ers, who have re­acted tepidly to the propo­si­tions and urged Lon­don to of­fer a re­vised, vi­able way for­ward, are yet to agree even to ramp up ne­go­ti­a­tions.


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