Report: Johnson ready to squat in Downing Street for Brexit
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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.