Boris John­son likens him­self to the Hulk in Brexit fight

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Gregory Katz

LON­DON — Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son has com­pared him­self to the Hulk in a news­pa­per in­ter­view em­pha­siz­ing his de­ter­mi­na­tion to take Bri­tain out of the Euro­pean Union next month.

John­son faces con­sid­er­able le­gal and po­lit­i­cal hur­dles but told the Mail on Sun­day he will meet the Oct. 31 dead­line no mat­ter what.

“The mad­der Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, in­vok­ing the comic book and film char­ac­ter known for for­mi­da­ble but de­struc­tive strength.

John­son remains de­fi­ant even though Par­lia­ment has passed a law re­quir­ing him to seek an ex­ten­sion to the dead­line if no deal is reached by mid-Oc­to­ber. He has also lost his work­ing ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment and been told by Scot­land’s high­est court that his de­ci­sion to sus­pend Par­lia­ment was il­le­gal.

John­son por­trays him­self as more con­vinced than ever that Bri­tain will break with the EU at the end of Oc­to­ber.

He will have a lunchtime meet­ing in Lux­em­bourg on Mon­day with Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker to try to mod­ify the Ir­ish back­stop that has been a main stick­ing point, but EU lead­ers did not seem im­pressed by John­son’s in­vo­ca­tion of the Hulk.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s Brexit co­or­di­na­tor, Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt, said the com­ments showed a lack of ma­tu­rity.

“Even to Trumpian stan­dards the Hulk com­par­i­son is in­fan­tile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU sup­posed to be scared by this? The Bri­tish public im­pressed?”

Juncker, who has down­played hopes of a break­through at Mon­day’s meet­ing, also ex­pressed alarm that many peo­ple in Bri­tain seem to feel a Bri­tish de­par­ture with­out a deal with the EU would be a pos­i­tive thing.

“It would be ter­ri­ble chaos,” he said in an in­ter­view with Ger­many’s Deutsch­land­funk ra­dio. “And we would need years to put things back in or­der. Any­one who loves his coun­try, and I as­sume that there are still pa­tri­ots in Bri­tain, would not want to wish his coun­try such a fate.”

The Oct. 31 dead­line looms large be­cause John­son has not said he will seek an­other ex­ten­sion if no deal is reached, de­spite leg­is­la­tion passed by Par­lia­ment shortly be­fore it was sus­pended.

Bri­tain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether John­son over­stepped the law when he shut the leg­is­la­ture for a cru­cial five-week pe­riod.

The Lib­eral Democrats, who have been en­joy­ing a re­vival, voted over­whelm­ingly at their party con­fer­ence Sun­day to end the Brexit process en­tirely if they come to power.

Party leader Jo Swin­son said Ar­ti­cle 50, which trig­gered Brexit, would be re­voked if she be­comes prime min­is­ter.

The party gained an im­por­tant mem­ber Satur­day with the de­fec­tion of Sam Gy­imah, a for­mer Con­ser­va­tive min­is­ter. He is the sixth leg­is­la­tor to switch al­le­giance and join the Lib­eral Democrats this year.

John­son also con­tin­ues to take flak from for­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, who called the 2016 ref­er­en­dum on Brexit.

Cameron said in an in­ter­view pub­lished Sun­day that John­son didn’t re­ally be­lieve in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the cam­paign to take Bri­tain out of the EU. Cameron had been ex­pect­ing John­son’s help dur­ing the hard-fought cam­paign.

Cameron says of John­son: “The con­clu­sion I am left with is that he risked an out­come he didn’t be­lieve in be­cause it would help his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.”

CHRISTO­PHER FUR­LONG/GETTY

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son faces hur­dles in his fight to take Bri­tain out of the Euro­pean Union.

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