British parliament shut down for five weeks, risk of no-deal Brexit remains

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) speaks in the House of Commons in London, Britain, on Sept. 4, 2019. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/Handout via Xinhua)
  • Xinhua
  • September 10, 2019 9:33 AM

LONDON -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shut down the House of Commons for five weeks in the early hours of Tuesday morning following his sixth parliamentary defeat over the past six days.


The risk of a no-deal Brexit remains even after MPs voted to block a snap election and force the publication of 10 Downing Street's secret preparations for a no-deal Brexit.


The legislators voted 293 to 46 to turn down the government's wish to hold a general election on Oct. 15. Johnson failed to get sufficient two-thirds majority House of Commons required by law for a snap election.


The prime minister, who vowed to take his country out of the European Union (EU) on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, moved to stop parliament sitting until Oct. 14 and repeatedly refused to countenance any delay to Brexit.


It is the second government bid to seek an early general election. The prime minister said that an early election, which is not due until 2022, is the only way to break the country's current Brexit deadlock.


The legislators Wednesday rejected a motion tabled by Johnson calling for a general election on Oct. 15.


"Let the people decide if they want a Brexit delay," Johnson said in the parliament on Monday night while calling for support for his bid for a snap election.


"I will not ask for another delay," Johnson said, referring to the new law, known as the Brexit delay law, ordering him to seek a postponed Brexit if he cannot reach a new deal with the EU by Oct. 19.


The late-night debate on the government's motion witnessed a crossfire between the government and opposition parties in the parliament.


The Labour and other opposition MPs refused to back the bid while the risk of a no-deal Brexit remained.


Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour, said that the prime minister has confirmed that he will not follow the Brexit delay law. Legal experts said that it is the law of the country, and the prime minister has no other choice but to comply.


The bill becomes law after it passed both the lower and upper houses of the parliament last week and got royal assent Monday.


During the late-night debate in parliament, the prime minister said that "an early election is the only way to break the Brexit deadlock."


"I want an election ... I don't retreat from that at all ... But we are not prepared to inflict the disaster ... of a no-deal Brexit," Corbyn told the House of Commons.


"No deal would not be a clean break. It would not mean 'just getting on with it' ... it would start a whole new period of confusion," Corbyn said.


"We have no faith that this government is seeking a Brexit deal," the Labour leader said. "The prime minister confirms that he is not following the Brexit delay law."


 "Labour wants an election, but won't risk a no deal," Corbyn said. "We are not walking into traps laid by this prime minister."


He claimed the prime minister is trying to take the country "over a cliff of a no-deal exit," saying it will damage the poorest and most vulnerable communities in society.


The prime minister accused Corbyn of his attempts to "delay Brexit and then negotiate a new deal" with the EU.


For his part, Ian Blackford, leader of the opposition Scottish National Party in the House of Parliament, said that his party wants an election so Scotland will not be ignored.


He described the proposed general election as "an opportunity to have the voices of the Scottish people heard."


Scotland voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.


"We want an election, but we don't want it on the prime minister's terms," he said.


He accused Johnson of being "obsessed with running down the clock" on Brexit and claimed he "cannot be trusted."


He said that the prime minister wants to suspend the parliament so he can "drive us off the cliff edge" of a no-deal Brexit.


"Well, Mr. Speaker, we are not falling for it," he said, warning Johnson that his days in office "are numbered."


Jo Swinson, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, said that "Britain deserves better" and "the people are afraid of a no-deal Brexit."


Swinson, elected as the party's first female leader in July, confirmed that she would support the cancellation of Brexit.


In a day of high drama in the House of Commons, Speaker John Bercow announced his intention to stand down next month. At the same time, MPs also demanded the government publish communications connected to prorogation and no-deal Brexit planning.


The parliament was suspended after the Monday night vote.


"This government is only interested in shutting down parliament to avoid any scrutiny," the Labour leader added.

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