Prime Minister Boris Johnson is determined to keep his Brexit plan in place and will not seek a delay to Britain’s departure from the EU at a summit next month, two of his ministers said on Sunday (Sep 8) following a resignation from his government.
Two of Johnson’s ministers have said he was determined to “keep to the plan” of leaving the EU by Oct 31st with or without an agreement despite work and pensions minister Amber Rudd’s shocking resignation late on Saturday over Johnson’s Brexit policy.
The prime minister’s determination to leave by that deadline and not look for any further extensions has been stifled by recent events, which have prompted critics into describing him as a tyrant and left uncertain over how Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the EU will play out.
Johnson has lost his Conservative government’s majority in parliament, expelled 21 rebels from the party and failed to force through a new election. His own brother quit shortly after.
Saturday’s resignation of Amber Rudd as work and pensions minister has only heightened the sense of crisis over what she described as the government’s disproportionate focus on preparing for a no-deal Brexit, although on Sunday, Rudd denied accusing the government of lying over its efforts to negotiate a deal, saying she was just reporting what she had seen.
“I am saying that 80 to 90 percent of the work that I can see going on on the EU relationship is about preparation for no deal. It’s about disproportion,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. “The purpose of this resignation is to make the point that the Conservative Party at its best should be a moderate party that embraces people with different views of the EU.”
Her view was rebutted by foreign minister Dominic Raab, describing ongoing “intense negotiations” in Brussels. Both he and finance minister Sajid Javid contradicted EU officials who have said Britain has yet to come up with any new suggestions for changes to the deal agreed by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May. Johnson, Javid said, would go to an EU summit on Oct 17 to try to secure the new deal. “First of all, the prime minister will go to the council meeting on the 17th and 18th (of October), he’ll be trying to strike a deal. He absolutely will not be asking for an extension in that meeting,” Javid told the BBC.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister in Paris, has said that, as things stand, an extension would not be granted even if Britain asked for one. France says Britain was failing to say what it wanted. “It’s very worrying. The British must tell us what they want,” Le Drian told Europe 1 radio. “We are not going to do (extend) this every three months”, Le Drian said when asked if an extension beyond Oct 31 was possible.
Tensions and crisis rose in Britain last week, when parliament passed legislation trying to force Johnson into securing a Brexit extension if a deal has not been approved by the parliament or consented to leaving without agreement by Oct 19.
Queen Elizabeth is expected to sign it into law on Monday, Johnson says he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than request such an extension.
Johnson has countered by asking for a new election on Oct 15, but opposition parties, led by Labour, said they could not trust him to stick to his word by holding the new poll before Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of the month.
“Until we’ve ruled a no deal off the agenda, I can’t risk, with Boris Johnson being in power, that he wouldn’t somehow impose that on the country,” Labour’s finance policy chief John McDonnell told the BBC.
“So we can get no deal off the agenda, then I’d like a general election and part of that would be saying let’s have a referendum.”