- Boris Johnson said members of Parliament would not block a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
- A government minister had warned that about a dozen Conservative MPs might bring down the government to stop the UK from leaving the European Union without a deal on Halloween.
- But Johnson, the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, said MPs would allow a no-deal to happen as they’d face what he called “mortal retribution” if Brexit did not happen as scheduled.
- Johnson told the BBC that he could renegotiate the Brexit deal to remove the so-called backstop as there was “real positive energy” in Brussels for doing so.
- He pulled back, however, on his suggestion that the UK could have a transition period without a Brexit deal.
LONDON – Members of Parliament will face “mortal retribution” from voters if they block a no-deal Brexit on October 31, Boris Johnson has said.
Growing numbers of pro-European Union Conservative MPs, such as former Attorney General Dominic Grieve and former Chancellor Ken Clarke, have said publicly that they would support a vote of no confidence in a Johnson-led government to stop it from pursuing a no-deal Brexit later this year.
Their colleague Tobias Ellwood told the BBC’s “Panorama” program that a “dozen or so” Conservative MPs would bring down the government to prevent a disruptive no-deal scenario.
In an interview with the BBC, however, Johnson – the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May as Conservative Party leader and prime minister – said all political parties would face dire consequence if they stopped a Halloween Brexit.
“I think Parliament now understands,” Johnson told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg this week.
“That the British people want us to come out and to honour the mandate that they gave us.
“And I think that MPs on both sides of the House also understand that they will face mortal retribution from the electorate unless we get on and do it.”
The former foreign secretary said recent election results had made MPs more reluctant to stand in the way of the United Kingdom leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
“What has changed since 29 March is that my beloved party is down at 17 points in the polls,” he said. “Labour isn’t doing much better as I say with superhuman incompetence Corbyn managed to go backwards in the recent council elections.”
Johnson has promised to take the UK out of the EU on October 31, with or without an agreement on terms with Europe.
He said that while he did not expect to leave without a deal, the UK should “abandon the defeatism and negativity that has enfolded us in a great cloud for so long” and “prepare confidently and seriously” for it.
In his interview with the BBC, Johnson walked back his previous suggestion that the UK could have a transition period, or “implementation period,” in a no-deal scenario.
But he insisted that despite the EU’s firm public statements to the contrary, the Withdrawal Agreement could be renegotiated to remove the contentious backstop policy for avoiding a hard border separating Ireland from Northern Ireland.
Johnson said that there was “real positive energy about getting it done” in Brussels and that technology could replace the backstop, despite the UK government, the EU, and myriad experts saying otherwise.
“Let me tell you, there are abundant, abundant technical fixes that can be introduced to make sure that you don’t have to have checks at the border,” Johnson told the BBC. “That’s the crucial thing.”
Johnson refused to be drawn on the incident reported last week involving himself and his partner, Carrie Symonds, which led to neighbours calling the police.
“I do not talk about stuff involving my family, my loved ones,” he told the BBC.
“And there’s a very good reason for that.
“That is that, if you do, you drag them into things that really is … not fair on them.”
Johnson and his leadership rival Jeremy Hunt are travelling around the country and partaking in hustings for Conservative members before the next prime minister is chosen at the end of July.
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