Johnson urged to embrace no-deal Brexit, Corbyn warned

AFP . London | Update:

Britain`s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: AFPBrexit Party leader Nigel Farage urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tuesday to lead Britain out of the EU without a divorce deal, and threatened he would fight his party "in every seat" otherwise.

"Given where we are, no deal is the best deal," Farage told more than 500 prospective parliamentary candidates from his party, which topped European elections in May.

"If, Mr Johnson, you insist on the Withdrawal Agreement, we will fight you for every single seat" in the next general election, he said, referring to the divorce deal currently on offer.

Farage, a leading force behind Britain's Brexit vote in 2016, warned Johnson against attempting to negotiate an amended departure agreement with Brussels, urging him to pursue a "clean break Brexit" instead.

Farage said the Brexit Party was prepared to strike a "non-aggression pact" with Johnson's governing Conservatives in any general election if the prime minister went for the "no-deal" option.

The Conservatives faced electoral annihilation otherwise, he warned.

"The only way they could win a general election is with our support," said Farage.

"We could be their worst enemy or their best friend."

British politicians are still deeply divided over how or even whether to leave the European Union and the impasse has led to growing speculation that a general election may be imminent.

Johnson's government has a one-seat majority in parliament.

Johnson was due to speak to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker by phone later on Tuesday, while the government's chief Brexit adviser David Frost will head to Brussels for talks Wednesday.

'URGENCY TO ACT'
With the clock ticking, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met five pro-EU opposition leaders to thrash out a plan to prevent a no-deal Brexit after leaked official planning documents said this could lead to food, fuel and medicine shortages.

"The attendees agreed on the urgency to act together to find practical ways to prevent no-deal, including the possibility of passing legislation and a vote of no confidence," they said in a joint statement.

The pound rose sharply against the dollar and the euro -- by about 0.5 percent -- following the announcement.

Corbyn wanted to call a no-confidence vote in Johnson's government next week and then, if successful, lead a caretaker administration that would postpone Brexit and call a general election.

But the opposition leaders' meeting agreed instead to first try passing a law that would force the government to ask the EU to delay Brexit.

SUSPENDING PARLIAMENT AN 'OUTRAGE'
Britain's parliament is due to return on September 3.

But anti-Brexit politicians have been discussing plans ever since Johnson came to power last month vowing to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a divorce deal.

Johnson has said he is hoping for a deal with EU leaders, describing the chances as "marginally" higher following G7 talks over the weekend.

But he has not ruled out suspending parliament -- known as proroguing -- in order to allow a no-deal Brexit if he fails to come to an agreement with the EU in the next weeks.

Some 160 of Britain's 650 MPs have signed what they called the "Church House Declaration" against proroguing parliament.

"Shutting down parliament would be an undemocratic outrage at such a crucial moment for our country, and a historic constitutional crisis," it read.

Parliament sometimes sat in Church House during World War II to avoid German bombings.

Britain voted to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum but has already been forced to delay its exit twice after parliament opposed a deal that Johnson's predecessor Theresa May struck with Brussels.

Johnson wants Brussels to remove the withdrawal agreement's fallback provisions for the border with EU member Ireland. The Brexit Party wants to junk the entire agreement.

UK LABOUR LEADER WARNS ABOUT 'TRUMP DEAL BREXIT'

Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn on Monday warned about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, speaking ahead of cross-party talks aimed at finding ways to block it.

Corbyn wrote in the Independent that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was "cosying up to" US President Donald Trump "because a No Deal Brexit is really a Trump Deal Brexit".

"It won't return sovereignty, it will put us at the mercy of Trump and the big US corporations," Corbyn wrote.

Corbyn said a general election would be the best way of stopping it but he was open to other options.

Some MPs have mentioned the possibility of passing legislation to force the government to delay Brexit.

"I hope we can come to a good working arrangement and bring on board others across parliament who see the danger of a No Deal crash out," wrote Corbyn.

The Labour leader has invited other opposition figures and pro-EU moderates from the ruling Conservatives to the talks in parliament on Tuesday.

Corbyn has said he plans to call a no-confidence vote in Johnson as soon as possible and would be ready to lead a caretaker government to delay Brexit if he wins that vote.

Britain's parliament is not due to resume until next week but anti-Brexit politicians have been discussing plans ever since Johnson came to power last month vowing to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 deal or no deal.

Johnson has said he is hoping for a deal with EU leaders.

The political impasse has raised the chances of a general election and politicians of all stripes are preparing.

The Brexit Party, which came first in European elections earlier this year and which advocates a no-deal Brexit, is presenting its candidates at a launch event on Tuesday.

Britain voted to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum but has been forced to delay its exit twice after parliament opposed a deal struck with Brussels under Johnson's predecessor Theresa May.

"Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party will do anything to try and block delivering the change that British people voted for in the referendum," the Conservatives said in a statement.

"Only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives can provide the leadership the UK needs to deliver Brexit by 31 October, whatever the circumstances," the statement said.

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