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UK parliament suspended until Oct, MPs set to block snap election

Published : Tuesday, 10 September, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 903

DUBLIN, Sept 9: The five-week suspension of Parliament was to begin late on Monday, after MPs are expected to again reject government calls for a snap election.
Opposition MPs confirmed they would not back the push for a 15 October poll, insisting a law blocking a no-deal Brexit must be implemented first. Ministers have said they will "test" what the law - expected to get final approval on Monday - requires of them.
Boris Johnson has been warned he could face legal action for flouting it. The government has described the law - which would force the PM to seek a Brexit delay if MPs have not approved a new deal, or no deal, by 19 October - as "lousy".
Although No 10 insisted it was not looking to break the law, efforts were under way to examine ways of getting around it. Two applications have been made to hold emergency debates in Parliament later.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has requested a debate around the rule of law.  The second application is being made by Dominic Grieve - who lost the Conservative whip last week for voting to block a no-deal Brexit - but it is not clear what the subject will be.
Downing Street confirmed that the expected prorogation - or suspension - of Parliament until 14 October would begin at the end of Monday's sitting. It means MPs will not get another chance to vote for an early election until after then, meaning a poll would not be possible
until late November at the earliest.
Johnson met his Irish counterpart in Dublin on Monday as he battles to salvage his hardline Brexit strategy and force an early election in the face of fierce opposition in Westminster.
Johnson held talks with Leo Varadkar amid an apparent stalemate in the Brexit process and as MPs look set to vote down his second bid for a snap poll next month.
The British leader has vowed to take Britain out of the EU by October 31 with or without a formal divorce deal -- despite warnings that the latter scenario would entail economic chaos.
He wants the bloc to scrap a special provision in the deal agreed by his predecessor Theresa May to keep the Northern Irish border open in all circumstances after Brexit, arguing "alternative arrangements" exist.
"I won't say that we can do it all today, but I believe there is a deal to be done by October 18," a characteristically upbeat Johnson said ahead of his first face-to-face talks with Varadkar since taking office in July.
He added that failing to find a compromise, resulting in Britain leaving the bloc without a deal, "would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible."
But Brussels and Dublin have insisted the so-called backstop mechanism must remain in place to guarantee no return to a hard border between and EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland, which suffered decades of deadly sectarian violence.
Johnson finds himself increasingly cornered just six weeks after taking over from May. British MPs last week passed a law -- set to get royal assent on Monday -- that forces him to seek an extension to Brexit if he fails to agree a withdrawal deal at an October 17-18 EU summit.
Johnson, who had ordered parliament to be suspended from this week until mid-October in a bid to avoid such legislation, tried to call a snap election for next month in response.
But that would require the approval of two-thirds of MPs in parliament, which blocked the move last week.
Johnson will try again to force an October 15 election later Monday in another vote widely expected to fail.
The sense of chaos is being compounded by Johnson's decision to suspend parliament -- known as proroguing -- for over a month.
It is set to begin late Monday and will see the House of Commons emptied until October 14.
Amid the fallout from that move, numerous MPs have defected or been sacked from Johnson's party, leaving him without a working majority in parliament. Several members of his government have also quit, including his own brother.
Two of his most senior ministers both rejected speculation Sunday that Johnson had no real option but to resign. But neither could say clearly how he intended to keep all his Brexit promises without somehow bending UK law.    -AFP

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