(Bloomberg) — The European Union is considering how long to delay the U.K.’s departure from the bloc, but officials said Boris Johnson’s bid for a snap general election — and his threat to pull proposed legislation based on a Brexit deal he reached just a week ago — is complicating matters.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid conceded the U.K. will not meet Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on Oct. 31, telling the BBC the government has done “everything possible” to meet that deadline.
EU diplomats meeting in Brussels to discuss third Brexit extensionJohnson proposes Dec. 12 for general election, but needs two-thirds majority in Parliament for it to take placeOpposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says threat of no-deal Brexit must be removed before he’ll back a pollJavid says government will keep filing motions for an early election until it gets its wayRead more: Boris Johnson’s Double Gamble on an Unpredictable U.K. Election
Delay Must Be in Place Before Election: Gyimah (9:45 a.m.)
Boris Johnson’s bid for a snap election — just a week after he agreed a Brexit deal with the European Union — is a stunt “to distract from the fact that he failed to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 do-or-die,’’ former Conservative Member of Parliament Sam Gyimah told Bloomberg TV.
Gyimah, who now sits as a Liberal Democrat, said any extension offered by the EU will need to be “fully implemented’’ before his party will consider backing a general election. Trust in Johnson is so low that it would be unacceptable to risk the premier crashing the U.K. out of the bloc without a deal, Gyimah said.
Johnson’s demand that Parliament should back a Dec. 12 election and pass his “lousy deal’’ with the EU before it is dissolved for the election is “bizarre’’ and intended to avoid scrutiny, Gyimah said.
“If accepting an election also means we’re accepting a ridiculous timetable, in which he holds a gun to Parliament’s head to get the deal through, that would be unacceptable,’’ he said. “There is no trust between Parliament and the Johnson government.’’
Labour MPs Split Over Pre-Brexit Election (8:50 a.m.)
Labour backbencher Peter Kyle said he won’t back an election because going to the polls with Brexit unresolved would poison the vote.
“I would absolutely not vote for a general election until this stage of Brexit is resolved,” Kyle told BBC radio. He said the “overwhelming majority” of his Labour colleagues are of the same opinion, and that if they accede to Johnson’s demand, “he can pull the legislation at any point if he doesn’t get what he wants, and then we’ll go into an election with no legislation, facing no deal again.”
Illustrating the split in Labour, Brexit-backer Kate Hoey said it’s time for an election as the Conservatives are unable to govern. But she agreed with Kyle’s verdict that “there may well be” a majority in Labour opposed because MPs representing Leave-supporting districts don’t want to face electorates who think the party has been thwarting Brexit.
“It is that ridiculous expression of turkeys voting for Christmas,” she said. “That is coming into it.”
Javid: Govt Can’t Rule Out No-Deal Exit (8:35 a.m.)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid told BBC radio the government can’t rule out a no-deal Brexit — suggesting opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn won’t be given the reassurance he needs to vote for a general election on Monday.
Technically, Javid is right. As things stand, without a deal agreed by Parliament, the U.K. is set to crash out of the bloc on Oct. 31 — unless the EU agrees to its request for an extension.
Javid Ditches Oct. 31 Brexit Deadline (8:15 a.m.)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said Parliament’s demand for an extension made it impossible for the government to deliver Brexit by the current Oct. 31 deadline.
“We have to accept we won’t be able to leave on Oct. 31,” Javid told the BBC, adding that the government had done “everything possible” to do so.
Javid also warned that if Members of Parliament defy Boris Johnson’s demand for an early election, the government would simply keep trying.
“If they don’t then we will keep bringing back to Parliament a motion to have an election,” he said. “And we will keep doing that again and again.”
Javid also confirmed the government’s budget statement scheduled for Nov. 6 has been canceled.
Labour Says It’s Ready But Won’t Accept Election (Earlier)
The main opposition Labour Party is ready for a general election but won’t yet vote for one, its home affairs spokeswoman Diane Abbott told BBC radio on Friday. She said Labour has both the money and the will for the campaign.
Leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Thursday that his decision on backing Boris Johnson’s bid for a snap poll depends on the length of a Brexit extension granted by the European Union — and on the prime minister taking a no-deal departure off the table. On Friday, Abbott went further, suggesting a law may need to be passed to rule it out.
“We would want to be absolutely certain of that because we’ve said for some time that crashing out of the EU without a deal would be catastrophic,” Abbott said. “We’d want to have an explicit commitment that no deal is off the table and that might mean further legislation in Parliament.”
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–With assistance from Anna Edwards and Thomas Penny.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at [email protected], Stuart Biggs, Thomas Penny
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