John­son seeks Brexit break­through

Par­lia­ment’s month-long sus­pen­sion to be­gin

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son met his Ir­ish coun­ter­part in Dublin on Mon­day as he bat­tles to sal­vage his hard­line Brexit strat­egy and force an early elec­tion in the face of fierce op­po­si­tion in West­min­ster.

John­son held talks with Leo Varad­kar amid an ap­par­ent stale­mate in the Brexit process and as MPS look set to vote down his sec­ond bid for a snap poll next month. The Bri­tish leader has vowed to take Britain out of the EU by Oc­to­ber 31 with or with­out a for­mal di­vorce deal – despite warn­ings that the lat­ter sce­nario would en­tail eco­nomic chaos.

He wants the bloc to scrap a spe­cial pro­vi­sion in the deal agreed by his pre­de­ces­sor Theresa May to keep the North­ern Ir­ish bor­der open in all cir­cum­stances af­ter Brexit, ar­gu­ing “al­ter­na­tive arrangemen­ts” ex­ist.

“I won’t say that we can do it all today, but I be­lieve there is a deal to be done by Oc­to­ber 18,” a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally up­beat John­son said ahead of his first face-to-face talks with Varad­kar since taking of­fice in July.

He added that fail­ing to find a compromise, re­sult­ing in Britain leav­ing the bloc with­out a deal, “would be a fail­ure of state­craft for which we would all be re­spon­si­ble.”

But Brus­sels and Dublin have in­sisted the so-called back­stop mech­a­nism must re­main in place to guar­an­tee no re­turn to a hard bor­der be­tween EU mem­ber Ire­land and Bri­tishruled North­ern Ire­land, which suf­fered decades of deadly sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence.

“The back­stop continues to be a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of the with­drawal agree­ment, un­less and un­til an al­ter­na­tive is found,” Varad­kar said, stand­ing be­side John­son.

“We are open to al­ter­na­tives. But they must be re­al­is­tic ones, legally bind­ing and work­able.”

And on early Mon­day, John­son’s spokesman said the month-long sus­pen­sion of the Bri­tish par­lia­ment or­dered by the prime min­is­ter in an ap­par­ent bid to stop MPS block­ing his Brexit strat­egy would be­gin late Mon­day.

“Par­lia­ment will be pro­rogued at close of busi­ness today,” the spokesman said, us­ing the par­lia­men­tary term for the sus­pen­sion.

He added it would take place re­gard­less of the outcome of a gov­ern­ment-led vote on hold­ing a snap elec­tion next month.

John­son last month asked Queen El­iz­a­beth II to close the Houses of Par­lia­ment un­til Oc­to­ber 14, claim­ing it was needed to al­low him to in­tro­duce a new do­mes­tic agenda.

But the sus­pen­sion’s tim­ing and longer than unusual du­ra­tion sparked up­roar across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, with crit­ics call­ing it a “con­sti­tu­tional out­rage” and a coup.

Law­mak­ers op­posed to a nodeal Brexit said it was clearly aimed at hob­bling their efforts to pre­vent such a sce­nario, while it also prompted sev­eral so far un­suc­cess­ful court chal­lenges.

How­ever, the move ap­peared to back­fire on John­son by gal­va­niz­ing op­po­si­tion MPS and Con­ser­va­tive rebels into pass­ing leg­is­la­tion forc­ing him to seek a Brexit de­lay next month if he has not reached a deal with the EU.

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