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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Tories vs. Tory PM: Boris under pressure over no-deal Brexit

Philip Hammond, chancellor in the Theresa May government, and 19 other leading Tories, including former ministers, insisted on Wednesday that there was no mandate in the 2016 EU referendum to leave the EU without an agreement.

world Updated: Aug 14, 2019 22:49 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a speech on domestic priorities at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, Britain July 27, 2019. Lorne Campbell/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a speech on domestic priorities at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, Britain July 27, 2019. Lorne Campbell/Pool via REUTERS(REUTERS)
         

Opposition is mounting from within the ruling Conservative party to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to leave the European Union by October 31 even without an agreement – a scenario widely considered economically crippling for the UK.

Philip Hammond, chancellor in the Theresa May government, and 19 other leading Tories, including former ministers, insisted on Wednesday that there was no mandate in the 2016 EU referendum to leave the EU without an agreement.

The possibility of a no-deal Brexit has come to define the Johnson government, but has caused much anxiety across the political spectrum, besides trade and industry. Elements opposed to the possibility are likely to table a no-trust motion when the House of Commons resumes in early September.

According to Hammond, MPs can prevent Johnson taking the UK out of the EU without a deal, insisting that a no-deal Brexit would be a “betrayal of the referendum,” and alleged that Johnson’s advisers have no intention of negotiating a new deal.

The intervention by Hammond and other leading Tories was welcomed by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. MPs have been discussing parliamentary devices available to stop the Johnson government’s no-deal Brexit plan.

Hammond said: “I’m very confident that the means exist for parliament to make its voice heard and to pass legislation that gives effect to the clear view of parliament. It’s very clear to me, and the Speaker of the House of Commons has also been very clear, that if a majority of MPs clearly want to go down a certain route, a means will be delivered to allow that to happen.”

Speaker John Bercow told an event in Edinburgh that MPs did have the ability to stop a no-deal Brexit, adding that he would “fight with every breath in my body” to stop the prime minister from proroguing parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit without the consent of MPs.

Another leading Conservative figure, Dominic Grieve, backed Hammond: “(He) is absolutely right to say there’s no mandate for a disastrous no-deal, and that for a government to try and force such an outcome on the country without the public’s consent would be an outrage against democracy”.

“It is encouraging to see more and more Conservative MPs, including many former ministers, reaching this view. We live in a representative democracy and parliament will have its say - MPs elected by the people will not allow an out-of-control government to impose no deal against the wishes of the majority of the public and of parliament”.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 22:49 IST

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