Boris Johnson’s Brexit troubles deepened as the Speaker of the House of Commons warned him Parliament will “forcefully” try to stop him taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal.
The premier believes the only way out of the crisis is to hold an election and he will press ahead with his campaign to win votes with a speech aimed at pro-Brexit areas in northern England on Friday. But before he gets a chance to make his case, his battle with opponents of his Brexit plan intensified.
Johnson has said he’d rather die than ask the EU for a delay to Brexit. Members of Parliament passed a law last week saying he must ask for an extension if he doesn’t get a divorce deal by Oct. 19.
Government lawyers have been asked to find ways around the law, but John Bercow, the outgoing Speaker of the House of Commons, said Johnson would be acting like a “bank robber” if he refused to delay.
He suggested the U.K. may need a U.S.-style written constitution to keep the government from trying to skirt laws passed by Parliament.
Bercow has been a thorn in the side of the government by allowing Parliament time to pass laws on the future of Brexit. On Thursday, he suggested he’d continue to help MPs who want to stop a no-deal Brexit, until he leaves his post on Oct 31.
“I would imagine that Parliament would want to cut off such a possibility and to do so forcefully,” Bercow said in a lecture at the Bingham Center for the Rule of Law in London. “If that demands additional procedural creativity to come to pass, it is a racing certainty that this will happen and that neither the limitations of the existing rule book nor the ticking of the clock will stop it doing so.”
Bercow’s intervention represents the latest in a series of blows to Johnson’s strategy. Earlier this week, a Scottish court ruled that the premier acted unlawfully when he advised the Queen to suspend Parliament. On Thursday, Johnson was then asked whether he had misled the monarch about the reasons for suspending Parliament, replying he “absolutely” didn’t.
Legal challenges are piling up as Johnson seeks to pry Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 “come what may.”
While he won a Belfast court case related to the Irish border on Thursday, his opponents mounted another. Labour Party donor Dale Vince is filing papers seeking an immediate order that Johnson comply with the new law requiring the prime minister to seek a delay rather than allow a no-deal split.
Johnson said he’s hopeful of striking a deal with fellow leaders at an EU summit on Oct. 17-18. “We can see the rough area of landing space of how you could do it,” he said in a television interview. “It will be tough, it will be hard, but I think we can get there.”
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