Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

UK PM tells opposition to 'back Brexit or call vote of no confidence' in the government

Boris Johnson returned to London after UK Supreme Court’s landmark ruling his suspension of Parliament was unlawful

Amid shouts, angry gestures and repeated cries of “Order!” in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson defended his intention to withdraw Britain from the EU on October 31, with or without a deal. AFP
Amid shouts, angry gestures and repeated cries of “Order!” in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson defended his intention to withdraw Britain from the EU on October 31, with or without a deal. AFP

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he wants "Brexit done" and challenged opposition parties to call a vote of no confidence in the government.

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson told Parliament it had until the house rises to table a motion of no confidence and said if they did they would "face the day of reckoning with the voters".

"I think the people of this country have had enough," he said.

"This Parliament must either stand aside and let this government get it [Brexit] done or bring a vote of no confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.”

If a vote of no confidence happens the vote will be held on Thursday.

The prime minister was greeted with applause from his own Conservative lawmakers and jeers from the opposition side as he arrived in the Commons, hours after cutting short a trip to the United Nations in New York.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Mr Johnson to resign and labelled him a "dangerous prime minister".

“Have you no shame, prime minister?” asked Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s leader in Parliament.

Labour lawmaker Jess Phillips urged Johnson “to act with some humility and contrition.”

The raucous session in the Commons came after the UK Supreme Court’s landmark ruling a day ago that his suspension of Parliament for five weeks ahead of the Brexit deadline was unlawful.

Mr Johnson told Parliament the court's decision was "wrong" and accused politicians of "sabotaging" Brexit negotiations.

"I want Brexit done," he said.

"I was told there was no chance of a new deal and we are [now] discussing a new deal. We will not abandon the priorities that matter to the public."

On Wednesday MPs were discussing plans to force Mr Johnson to request an earlier Brexit extension.

Ahead of Mr Johnson’s speech, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox had told parliament a motion for a general election would be “coming before the house shortly”.

However, opposition MPs have already rejected the same move twice before and insist their initial priority is preventing a potentially catastrophic no deal Brexit on October 31.

"This parliament is a dead parliament. It should no longer sit," Mr Cox said on Wednesday. "This parliament should have the courage to face the electorate. But it won't.”

Mr Cox faced calls to resign after it emerged he had advised the government it was not unlawful to suspend – or prorogue – parliament.

The landmark decision saw Supreme Court President Brenda Hale rule that Mr Johnson's order to prorogue Parliament was “void and of no effect”.

The court rejected the government’s assertion that the suspension order until October 14 was routine and not related to Brexit.

Lady Hale said the prorogation “was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification”.

Before the suspension, an alliance of opposition MPs backed by rebel members of Mr Johnson's Conservative Party forced through a law requiring him to ask the EU to push back the deadline if no exit deal was agreed by October 19.

But there are fears the government may ignore the law or try to find a way around it.

Updated: September 26, 2019 05:14 AM

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