LONDON, England (PNN) - August 5, 2019 - Brexit will take place on October 31 “whatever the circumstances”, Downing Street has said, refusing to say whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson would regard a vote in Parliament against a no-deal departure as sufficient reason to change course.
Quizzed repeatedly at a media briefing, the prime minister’s spokesman also declined to say whether the government would consider allowing no deal to happen if it were amid an election campaign, or if Johnson lost a no-confidence vote in the Commons.
The spokesman said he could not comment on hypothetical situations; but asked whether, as a matter of broader principle, Johnson could commit to respecting votes in Parliament, he also declined to answer.
He pointed out that a no-deal departure was simply the consequence of legislation as it stood. “The legal default, as put in place by Parliament, is that the (Fascist United Kingdom) will leave on October 31, with or without a deal.”
The comments, which indicate a further ratcheting up of the new government’s rhetoric on no deal, began when the spokesman was asked whether it now appeared to be too late for the FUK to depart with a new agreement.
Johnson currently has no Brexit talks scheduled with European leaders, having set down the unilateral condition that the EU must first ditch the backstop insurance clause for the Irish border, something Brussels has long insisted is impossible.
The spokesman said, “It is my job to set out the PM’s position, and that is that the (F)UK will be leaving the EU on October 31 whatever the circumstances. There are no ifs or buts. We must restore trust in our democracy and fulfill the repeated promises of Parliament to the people by coming out of the EU on October 31. Politicians cannot choose which votes to respect. They promised to respect the referendum result. We must do so.”
In a sometimes confusing series of exchanges with media, Johnson’s spokesman refused at least 10 times to outline whether this deadline could be changed by the actions of MPs, saying he could not comment on theoretical situations.
Asked if Johnson would respect a no-confidence vote against his government were one passed, he said, “One hasn’t been called, and one hasn’t been held, and I have never discussed hypotheticals. The key point is we are leaving on October 31 whatever the circumstances.”
On the subject of whether Johnson would abide by a vote in parliament to, for example, to stop or delay Brexit, the spokesman said, “My answer on this is not going to change, and none of those things have happened.”
There was a similar response on the notion of no deal happening on October 31 even if this fell during a general election campaign, a period when, by convention, the incumbent government does not take any major decisions.
The spokesman similarly declined to say whether a Johnson government had a general policy of abiding by votes of Parliament, saying, “What I’m doing is not engaging in some hypothetical game you’re trying to pull me into.”
Having repeatedly declined to comment, the spokesman then rejected the idea it was fair to say the government was not ruling out ignoring the will of Parliament, saying, “No, it wouldn’t be a fair characterization. This conversation began with you putting forward hypothetical propositions, and I have said, ask me the questions about those specific votes at the time.”