Sunday 15 September 2019

Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn pledges to avert Boris Johnson's 'smash and grab raid on democracy'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to St Ninian's Chruch community centre in Dunfermline, Scotland Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to St Ninian's Chruch community centre in Dunfermline, Scotland Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Lewis McKenzie

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged that MPs will bid to prevent UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson from shutting down Parliament when they return on Tuesday.

Mr Corbyn indicated that parliamentarians would pursue legislative means to stop the Prime Minister and avert a no-deal Brexit.

He warned: “The implications for this country are very, very serious. A no-deal Brexit would mean trade immediately at risk, jobs immediately at risk, the Northern Ireland border suddenly reimposed because there would be no deal whatsoever, there would be no backstop of any sort.”

Meanwhile in a rare joint statement, Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, The Independent Group for Change and the Green Party condemned the Prime Minister’s move to prorogue Parliament for almost a month.

Mr Johnson said the suspension was necessary so he could put forward his Government’s new legislative agenda, and in order to do this through a Queen’s Speech, the current two-year session of Parliament must formally come to an end.

However, anti-no-deal MPs believe it is an attempt to shorten the amount of time they have to try to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Mr Corbyn said: “We will be back in Parliament on Tuesday to challenge Boris Johnson on what I think is a smash and grab raid against our democracy.

“He’s trying to suspend Parliament in order to prevent a serious discussion and a serious debate to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

“What we’re going to do is try to litigately stop him on Tuesday with a parliamentary process in order to legislate to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and also to try and prevent him shutting down Parliament during this utterly crucial period.

“He would lead us straight into the arms of Donald Trump and the putative trade arrangement with the United States, which will be very damaging to our economy and, despite what he says, I believe will mean US healthcare corporations lining up to take over our NHS.”

Mr Corbyn indicated he remains confident there is enough time in Parliament to introduce legislation to prevent Mr Johnson from proroguing Parliament.

“We believe we can do it, otherwise we wouldn’t be trying to do it,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Corbyn also said that a Labour government would not allow another Scottish independence vote to be held in its “formative years”.

The Labour leader emphasised that another referendum would not be a “priority” and his party would urge against it.

Later in the day, Opposition leaders joined forces to demand Mr Johnson reverse his decision.

In their joint statement, the opposition leaders said: “It is our view that there is a majority in the House of Commons that does not support this prorogation, and we demand that the Prime Minister reverses this decision immediately or allows MPs to vote on whether there should be one.”

The statement continues: “We condemn the undemocratic actions of Boris Johnson following his suspension of Parliament until October 14.

“There is no mandate from the public for a damaging no-deal Brexit. The Prime Minister is shutting down Parliament with the sole aim of stopping MPs from avoiding a no-deal Brexit.

“Voters are being deprived of the opportunity to have their representatives hold the Government to account, make any key decisions, and ensure there is a lawful basis for any action that is taken.”

Mr Johnson is now facing legal challenges in London, Edinburgh and Belfast as the backlash to his decision to suspend Parliament for more than a month in the run-up to Brexit continued unabated.

He received a double blow as Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and whip Lord Young of Cookham quit their posts. Backbench Tory rebels have started working with opposition MPs to try to force the Prime Minister not to take the UK out of the EU without a deal.

Former justice secretary David Gauke said next week will be crucial for MPs hoping to block a no-deal Brexit.

And the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator made it clear he was not ready to retreat on the issue of the backstop, despite pressure from Mr Johnson.

Michel Barnier tweeted: “PM @BorisJohnson has said that the UK will leave the EU on 31 Oct. In all circumstances, the EU will continue to protect the interests of its citizens and companies, as well as the conditions for peace and stability on the island of Ireland. It is our duty & our responsibility.”

But Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg hit back at the PM’s critics, saying the outpouring of outrage it triggered was “phoney”.

PA Media

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