Tuesday 15 October 2019

Major problem looms if Boris seeks to force through no deal

Judicial review: Former British prime minister John Major. Photo: PA
Judicial review: Former British prime minister John Major. Photo: PA

Rob Merrick

Former British prime minister John Major says he will launch a judicial review to stop Boris Johnson shutting down the UK parliament to force through a "totally unacceptable" no-deal Brexit.

Mr Major condemned the Tory leadership favourite for failing to rule out prorogation - which he likened to the actions of Charles 1 in the 1640s.

Tory Brexiteers were guilty of championing parliamentary sovereignty "except when it is inconvenient for Mr Johnson", Mr Major said.

"I for one would be prepared to seek a judicial review to avoid parliament being bypassed," he said, predicting "a queue of people" would come forward.

The warning came after Mr Johnson used a live TV debate to double-down on his threat to shut down parliament if necessary, insisting that he was "not going to take anything off the table".

"I think it is absolutely bizarre at this stage in the negotiations for the UK yet again to be weakening its position," he said, vowing again to meet the current October 31 deadline.

In contrast, his rival Jeremy Hunt said: "When that has happened in the past and parliament was shut down against its will, we actually had a civil war."

A senior source close to the former foreign secretary hit back immediately, telling a BBC reporter that Mr Major had "gone completely bonkers" in making his threat.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme, Mr Major said: "I think the idea of proroguing parliament is utterly and totally unacceptable from any British parliamentarian."

He pointed out that such action by Charles 1 "didn't end well for him".

It would thrust Queen Elizabeth into the "midst of a constitutional controversy" but, he said: "The prime minister's advice to the queen can, I believe, be challenged in law."

Defending his stance on TV, Mr Johnson said: "People can see that we are fatally losing trust of the electorate, and they can see that [when] we asked people three years ago whether they wanted to leave the EU, they returned an overwhelming verdict."

Irish Independent

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