Anti-Brexit protesters, outside downing street in London, Britain, 28 August 2019 - Reuters
London (Reuters): Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government on Thursday challenged opponents of Brexit in Parliament to collapse the government or change the law, if they wanted to thwart Britain’s exit from the European Union.
More than three years since the Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom is heading towards its gravest constitutional crisis in decades, and a showdown with the EU over Brexit due in just 63 days’ time.
In his boldest step since becoming Prime Minister last month, Johnson enraged opponents of a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday by ordering the suspension of Parliament for almost a month.
The Speaker of the lower House of Parliament, John Bercow, said that was a constitutional outrage, as it limited the time the 800-year-old heart of English democracy has to debate and shape the course of British history.
But Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit supporter who is in charge of managing government business in Parliament, dared opponents to do their worst.
Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament for longer than usual at one of the most crucial junctures in recent British history was cheered by US President Donald Trump, but provoked criticism from some British lawmakers and media.
Ruth Davidson quit as leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland on Thursday, saying she could no longer juggle the demands of being a mother with the balancing act of Brexit.
“I have attempted to chart a course for our party which recognises and respects the referendum result, while seeking to maximise opportunities and mitigate risks for key Scottish businesses and sectors,” she said.
After years of tortuous negotiations and a series of political crises since the United Kingdom voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, Brexit remains up in the air. Options range from an acrimonious divorce on 31 October and an election to an amicable exit or even another referendum.
In effect, Johnson’s order to suspend Parliament forces opponents of a no-deal Brexit in Parliament to show their hand and act in as few as four days’ sitting next month. Parliament returns from its summer holiday on 3 September.