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Agencies
September 10, 2019

­Queen approves law seeking to block Oct 31 no-deal Brexit

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A
Agencies
September 10, 2019

LONDON: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on Monday gave final approval to a piece of legislation which seeks to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the country out of the European Union without an exit deal on Oct. 31.

The step, known as Royal Assent, is effectively a rubber-stamp from the monarch for the law which passed through parliament last week despite opposition from the government. The Royal Assent was announced in parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was undaunted by an attempt by lawmakers to block a no-deal Brexit, setting up a showdown with parliament after it passed legislation demanding that he will delay Brexit unless he strikes a new agreement.

As he navigates the Brexit storm, Johnson was due to suspend parliament for over a month from Monday after it votes on his latest demand for a snap election, a vote that is likely to go against him. Johnson had set up the suspension - called a prorogation - last month in what opponents cast as an attempt to sideline lawmakers as he attempts to pull the country out of the European Union by Oct. 31, with or without a withdrawal deal.

Brexit, the United Kingdom’s most significant geopolitical move in decades, remains in question more than three years since the 2016 referendum, with possible outcomes ranging from a no-deal exit to abandoning the whole endeavour.

Johnson, a former journalist who derided the EU and later became the face of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign, has repeatedly promised to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 and has said he will not countenance any delay. He wants an election to break the deadlock.

An alliance of opposition lawmakers and rebels from Johnson’s own Conservative Party have passed a bill, which is due to become law on Monday once Queen Elizabeth gives her assent, ordering the prime minister to delay Brexit to 2020 unless he gets a deal. “I’m absolutely undaunted by whatever may take place in parliament,” Johnson said in Dublin ahead of talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. “We must get Brexit done because the UK must come out on October 31, or else I fear that permanent damage will be done to confidence in our democracy in the UK,” Johnson said.

It was unclear what Johnson’s next move would be: the law will oblige him to seek a delay unless he can strike a new deal, but EU leaders have repeatedly said they have received no specific proposals.

Ireland told Johnson on Monday that he must make specific proposals on the future of the Irish border if there is to be any hope of averting a no-deal Brexit, saying Dublin cannot rely on simple promises. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn met other opposition party leaders on Monday and they agreed they would vote against his election bid. “All leaders agreed that they would not support Boris Johnson’s ploy to deny the people their decision by crashing us out of the EU with No Deal during a general election campaign,” Labour said.

The no-deal blocking bill will force Johnson to seek a three-month extension to the Oct. 31 deadline unless parliament has either approved a deal or consented by Oct. 19 to leave without one. “I want to find a deal, I want to get a deal,” Johnson said in Dublin, adding that there was plenty of time to find one before the Oct. 17-18 EU summit.

A spokesman for Johnson said that parliament would be suspended from Monday evening, meaning that an election is very unlikely before Oct. 31 unless parliament is recalled early.

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