International

UK govt denies division over Brexit plans

London, Oct 24 (IANS) | Publish Date: 10/24/2019 12:22:54 PM IST

The UK government has dismissed reports of disagreements within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet over how to move forward with the Brexit process, it was reported on Thursday.

The Downing Street has indicated that Johnson would seek a snap poll in December if the European Union (EU) proposes delaying the present October 31 Brexit deadline until January 2020, the BBC reported.

However, some Ministers were understood to want to focus on getting the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament instead.

But Downing Street sources have insisted there were no splits in the Cabinet’s strategy.

The question of how to move forward with Brexit follows Tuesday’s key Commons votes, where MPs backed the Prime Minister’s deal at its first Parliamentary hurdle but rejected his plans to fast-track the legislation.

That defeat effectively ended any realistic prospect of the UK leaving the bloc by October 31 - something Johnson has repeatedly insisted would happen under his premiership.

In response, the Prime Minister announced that he would pause the progress of his Withdrawal Agreement Bill while he waited to hear from the EU on whether they would grant a delay to Brexit and what length it should be.

On Wednesday, Johnson met opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to discuss how to break the Brexit impasse.

The Labour leader was keen to discuss a different timetable for the Brexit bill, while the Prime Minister wanted to know what Corbyn would do if the EU refused to grant an extension.

But nothing was agreed between the two and no further talks have been planned, the BBC said. Even if Johnson does decide to press for an early election there is no guarantee he will succeed.

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the Prime Minister needs to have the backing of two-thirds of MPs to hold a snap poll. It has already been rejected twice by MPs.

After losing a crunch Commons vote on October 19 aimed at ruling out a no-deal Brexit, Johnson was forced by law to send a letter to Brussels requesting a three-month extension.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said he spoke to European Council President Donald Tusk and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday and stressed to both his continued opposition to a delay.

The 27 EU ambassadors have had a first, informal discussion about a Brexit extension.

They all agreed on the need to extend the deadline, to avoid a no-deal outcome - but the duration of this possible extension remains under discussion.

A decision by the EU is not expected until Friday.

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