Published On: Sat, Sep 7th, 2019

Brexit latest: Boris Johnson could ‘go to prison’ if he refuses to delay Brexit | UK | News

Theresa May’s former de facto deputy David Lidington was among those who supported the Prime Minister in the Commons this week, despite 21 rebels MPs voting to stop a no deal Brexit. Mr Lidington told Radio 4 Mr Johnson convinced him he was “serious about getting a deal” and “understood the risks and the dangers of” no deal. The Conservative MPs who were expelled this week from the party are now preparing legal action in case Mr Johnson refuses to seek a delay to Brexit, the BBC has reported.

An opposition bill which would force Mr Johnson to ask the European Union for an extension to Britain’s departure to avoid a no-deal Brexit on October 31 was approved by the House of Lords, on Friday.

The Queen is expected to sign it into law on Monday.

Mr Johnson said last week he has no intention of seeking an extension and would rather “die in a ditch” than delay Brexit.

The Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying he was only bound “in theory” by the new legislation.

3.11pm update: Leo Varadkar has ‘conceded at the 11th hour’ on no deal Brexit 

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has been criticised for “conceding at the 11th hour” that there would be border checks in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Sinn Fein slammed Mr Varadkar after he announced during a speech on Thursday that some checks on goods and live animals may need to take place near the Irish border. 

The Taoiseach was outlining the impacts of a no-deal Brexit to business leaders in Dublin.

He said checks would take place “as far as possible” in ports, airports and at businesses.

Mr Varadkar added: “But some may need to take place near the border.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald blasted the Irish premier for “thinking out loud” about possible checks, insisting they would breach the Good Friday Agreement.

2.38pm update: Soubry scared of anti-Brexiteers at rally in Parliament Square

Anti-Brexit MP Anna Soubry has told the PA news agency she was too frightened to speak at a rally in Parliament Square due to protesters who support Brexit.

The leader of the Independent Group for Change had been scheduled to speak at the March for Change rally in London.

However shortly before the event, the MP told organisers she was too frightened to speak due to intimidation from counter-protests held by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance.

Ms Soubry told PA: “I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s awful but there’s also a side of me that thinks that this is our country.

“I’m a parliamentarian and I have a right to speak and I shouldn’t be frightened but it’s very, very, very disturbing, and I’m very frightened actually.”

After consulting with the police and protest organisers, Ms Soubry left the rally, telling officers she did not want to cause additional issues for them as they monitored both events.

Other speakers still scheduled to speak at the event include Green Party co-leader Sian Berry and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

2.33pm update: Dominic Cummings has different version of events over Brexit delay

Sky’s Sam Coates wrote on Twitter: “Rebel anti no-deal legislation latest: At last night’s Spad meeting, Dominic Cummings said that he had a “different interpretation” of the meaning and effect of rebel legislation .. meaning Boris Johnson wouldd not have to ask the EU for an extension next month .. Battle of legal advice!”

1.58pm update: Shocking way Boris could still force general election before EU summit Labour cannot stop

The Government is expected to table a motion on Monday asking MPs to approve a general election on October 15.

But  could have yet another card up his sleeves as he could force opposition parties to vote against him in a vote of no confidence in his own government that would inevitably force a general election, claimed political correspondent Sebastian Payne.

The Financial Times reporter explained: “One thing they might try and do is pass a very straight forward single clause bill that would say, notwithstanding the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which normally dictates how elections are held, we’ll have an election.”

Boris Johnson experienced a disastrous first week as Prime Minister

Boris Johnson experienced a disastrous first week as Prime Minister (Image: GETTY)

1.30pm update: ‘Get out of the EU!’ Ian Holloway lashes out at ‘selfish’ MPs – warns almost war situation

English football manager Ian Holloway launched a fiery tirade against politicians over their handling of Brexit negotiations, claiming they are “juggling about for themselves”.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Mr Holloway said: “I watched Question Time last night and I have never seen such an absolute waste of time, where people are squabbling and arguing.

“Yes, we all know that three years ago we asked, whether we are right or wrong, to get out. Get out of the EU, that’s what 52 percent to 48 said, so really, why’s it taking this long?

“It’s taking this long because the Remainers have argued with it. I don’t care whether, whatever you voted in this country, our country is in a mess right now so sort it out.

“It’s about common sense, do you know what I’m saying? They’re all juggling around for themselves, I thought their job was to actually look after our best interests.

“So if we’ve already had the vote, which we didn’t actually know what we were voting for in the first place really, deep down.

“If you’ve just been voted in by your party, how can they suddenly vote against you?

“Do you know what I mean? Are you a team or not? You know. I don’t get it, and all I’m saying is selfish, selfish, selfish.”

1pm update: Polling guru John Curtice reveals why Corbyn is avoiding a general election

John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, has warned the Labour Party’s support has fallen by 16 points since the 2017 general election.

The Conservatives lost only nine points, but they still may be reliant on teaming up with the Brexit Party to secure more leave seats across the UK, after the Tories lost their majority this week when Philip Lee defected to the Lib Dems.

Mr Curtice wrote in The Times: “Labour could fall behind the Tories in many of their marginal seats — perhaps especially so where the constituency voted heavily for Leave.

“Mr Johnson’s signal electoral achievement so far has been gradually to squeeze the support of the Brexit Party, nearly all of whose support (unsurprisingly) comes from Leave voters.

“It is that movement that has enabled him to secure a nine-point lead over Labour in the polls.”

12.23pm update: Sinn Fein leader criticises Taoiseach over border checks announcement 

Sinn Fein has criticised Leo Varadkar for “conceding at the 11th hour” that there would be border checks in a no-deal Brexit.

The Irish premier outlined the impacts of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal during a speech to business leaders in Dublin on Thursday evening.

He said there will be checks on goods and live animals, which he said would take place “as far as possible” in ports, airports and at businesses.

“But some may need to take place near the border,” he said.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald came down on Mr Varadkar for “thinking out loud” about possible checks, that she says would be in contravention to the Good Friday Agreement.

“We were very concerned to hear the Taoiseach think out loud and concede the point that there might be checks anywhere on the island of Ireland,” she told media on Saturday.

“We all committed to a bottom line, to protect our economy and peace process and never conceding any damage to the Good Friday Agreement, and the Taoiseach shouldn’t concede that now at the 11th hour.

“It’s very important that he remains steady and retain focus and we present a united front when dealing with EU authorities and in particular with the British system and Boris Johnson.

“There cannot be any check anywhere on the island of Ireland, it would be an act of absolute political vandalism and anywhere checks might be located, it would represent a serious breach of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Mr Varadkar says there will be a ‘grace period’ for no-deal Brexit changes to cross-border trade, however Ms McDonald says the issue is not related to the timing, but the checks themselves.

“You can dress it up any way you want, whether it’s a big bang or gradual process, the introduction of checks and customs and tariffs at any speed means you have not only breached the all-island economy but a fundamental building block of the Good Friday Agreement so that can’t happen.”

11.51am update: ERG holds talks with Brexit Party amid Brexit chaos

Brexiteer Tories have held talks with the Brexit Party over a potential election pact over fears the Conservatives will fail to secure a large enough majority to deliver a “clean-break” from the EU, The Telegraph has reported.

Members of the European Research Group have reportedly held “very tentative” talks with leader Nigel Farage over a pact, saying it “would be mad” not to pursue one.

A source told The Daily Telegraph: “There have been conversations between the Brexit Party and the ERG. Not just with Farage but also at a local level. The feeling is that it would be mad to let the Remainers do an alliance but not the Brexiteeers.”

The talks come after senior Tory Brexiteer Steve Baker warned on Tuesday that Boris Johnson needs do a deal with the Brexit Party ahead of a snap general election in order to have any hope of winning a majority. 

11.28am update: Remoaners ‘so wrong’ over attempts to stop Brexit

Broadcaster Julie Hartley-Brewer tweeted: “The Remoaners think they’ve won and that they’ll be able to stop Brexit. They’re so wrong. I’ve yet to meet a single Leave voter who isn’t boiling with anger & determined with all their soul to vote these anti-democrats out & elect a Parliament that WILL deliver Brexit.” 

10.42am update: Could Boris Johnson call a no-confidence vote on himself? 

Ruth Fox, the director of the Hansard Society, a leading constitutional research organisation, said: “It would get him to where he possibly wants, there would be a general election, unless within 14 days his or another government can secure a confidence vote. 

But she pointed out how ridiculous: “It would be extraordinary for a government to lay a motion of no confidence in itself and encourage [its] party to vote for that.”

The move could also run afoul UK’s unwritten constitution.

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act doesn’t explicitly forbid Johnson from calling his own no confidence vote.

But when that law was being passed in 2011, the then Conservative minister for constitutional reform Mark Harper said such a move would be “absolutely unconstitutional” and warned that “public would not respond well to a government behaving in that way.”

That view was later endorsed by the Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. But these are unprecedented times, and that which once seemed unthinkable is now very much possible.

Boris Johnson managed to convince David Lidington to back him

Boris Johnson managed to convince David Lidington to back him (Image: GETTY)

10.07am update: Labour leaflet calls for general election

The Labour leader has been relentless throughout the past two years in his campaign for another election following the last vote in 2017.

However in a major u-turn, Mr Corbyn failed to support the Government motion on Wednesday for an early poll on October 15 and was branded a “chicken” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Harry Cole, deputy political editory for the Mail on Sunday, tweeted: “Oh dear. This leaflet from Labour calling for “a General Election now” is landing on doormats this morning… “

The leaflet says: “Boris Johnson was chosen by a handful of Tory MPs and members who got us into this mess in the first place.

“This is no way to choose a Prime Minister, especially in a time of crisis.

“We need a general election now so you can make your own choice about the way forward for Britain.”

10am update: Sian Berry warns oppositon parties are united to block no deal

Co-leader of the Green Party, Sian Berry, said opposition parties are “absolutely united” in opposing a general election until the “threat” of a no-deal Brexit is “eliminated”.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: “We’ve not responded to the goads of the Prime Minister to try and call a general election now because we know that there is too much risk attached to that. We cannot risk a no-deal Brexit.”

She added: “I think the Prime Minister is very rattled by this, he’s faced by one of the most powerful things that can be, which is a group of unlikely allies getting together for the common good.”

Ms Berry said she hoped that Brexit would result in the UK “learning some lessons for our democracy”.

“The fact that our constitution cannot cope when somebody as untrustworthy as the current Prime Minister is in power means that we do need a written constitution and we should have that citizens’ convention to put together a new constitution,” she added.

She agreed that the public were fatigued by politics but argued there had been “enormous enthusiasm” for voting under proportional representation at the recent European elections.

READ MORE: Brexit Party MEP hints at Boris Johnson EU exit ‘betrayal’

David Lidington was Theresa May's de facto deputy

David Lidington was Theresa May’s de facto deputy (Image: UK PARLIAMENT)

9.36am update: Poll reveals Tories will lose all Scottish seats to SNP in general election 

There are 13 Tory MPs in Scotland, but a new YouGov poll for the People’s Vote campaign indicates they would all be replaced by the SNP.

The polling, which was conducted exclusively in Conservative-held constituencies across Scotland, points to a 14 percent drop in the party’s vote share in these seats, down from 44 percent to 30 percent.

Meanwhile, the vote share for the SNP is predicted to rise from 34 percent to 42 percent.

The poll shows a majority of voters in these constituencies would vote to keep the UK in the EU in a new referendum, by 63% to 37%, excluding non-voters and don’t knows.

More than half (51 percent) back a new public vote on Brexit, rising to 58 percent when don’t knows are excluded.

About a third (33 percent) of those questioned back leaving the EU with no Brexit deal if Parliament continues to vote against a withdrawal agreement.

Pollsters also found more people oppose a general election before October 31 than support the idea of a poll before the Brexit deadline, at 37 percent to 41 percent.

8.52am update: ‘Concerningly high number’ of businesses not ready for no deal Brexit

Research from the British Chambers of Commerce has found a “concerningly high number” of UK businesses are not ready for a no-deal Brexit.

The survey of 1,500 firms found two-fifths had not done a Brexit risk assessment, with the Chambers’ director general Adam Marshall saying the research “yet again reinforces the importance of averting a chaotic exit on October 31”.

He said: “Businesses do not want to see a messy and disorderly Brexit, but ongoing uncertainty means they must prepare for all possibilities as the October deadline looms.

“While more firms have taken basic steps to prepare for change than was the case last year, and government has stepped up communication to businesses, ongoing uncertainty makes business planning with confidence next to impossible.

“Companies are told to plan but are being presented with a moving target.”

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