Britain Johnson Threatens To Purge Rebel Party Members As Brexit Battle Heats Up - AMEBO FEEDS BLOG

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Britain Johnson Threatens To Purge Rebel Party Members As Brexit Battle Heats Up

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson sharply raised the stakes in the Brexit fight on Monday, threatening to kick members of Parliament out of the Conservative Party if they don’t support his plans to leave the European Union next month.

The move comes as Johnson and his opponents position themselves for a fierce showdown over Brexit on Tuesday when Parliament returns from its summer recess.

A cross-party group of opposition legislators, led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, plan to introduce legislation to block Britain leaving the E.U. without an agreement in place to regulate trade, border security and other critical issues — the so-called no-deal Brexit.

Most lawmakers in Parliament oppose leaving without an exit plan, something many analysts say could be economically damaging and lead to food and medicine shortages. Johnson has dismissed those predictions as fearmongering.

Conservative rebels reacted angrily to Johnson’s threat to force them out of the party, which would mean they could not run as Conservative candidates in future elections. A general election, as soon as the next few weeks, is a possibility if Johnson and his opponents fail to reach agreement over Brexit.

Nick Boles, a former Conservative legislator who quit the party over Brexit, told the BBC that Johnson’s tactics meant the party had been “taken over” by the “hard right.”

“The Conservative Party has fallen prey to an almost religious obsession with the hardest form of Brexit, which is obviously a Brexit with no deal,” he said in a radio interview Monday.

This week’s battles in Parliament will also center on Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament for five weeks, starting sometime next week, which will sharply limit the amount of time legislators have to debate the terms of the Oct. 31 Brexit.

Corbyn and other enraged opponents have called that an attack on Britain’s democracy. A suspension of Parliament is not unusual but the length of this year’s shut down — at a time when Britain is facing its biggest political decision in decades — is highly unusual.

Corbyn gave a speech Monday saying that Johnson’s opponents will do “everything necessary to pull our country back from the brink.”

“A no-deal Brexit is really a Trump-deal Brexit, leading to a one-sided United States trade deal that will put us at the mercy of Donald Trump and the biggest American corporations.” he said.

The possibility of a snap election is looming as Johnson and his opponents jostle and wrangle ahead of Tuesday’s showdown.

Britain’s next general election is scheduled for 2022. But under the British system, a general election can be called at virtually any time, as long as two-thirds of Parliament supports it.

Johnson, who has been in office just five weeks, has a tiny working majority of just one vote. He was not elected by the British people, but by a vote of Conservative Party members choosing a new leader after former prime minister Theresa May stepped down due to her inability to get her Brexit plan approved by Parliament.

So both sides are gaming out the benefits of an election. Johnson could call one in the hopes that a victory would allow him to claim a popular mandate for his Brexit plans. His moves to force rebel Conservatives out of the party could help him with party unity.

David Gauke, a Conservative lawmaker who was the justice secretary only a few weeks ago, told the BBC that Johnson was purging rebels from the party for precisely that reason.

“I think the strategy, to be honest, is to lose this week and then seek a general election having removed those of us” who oppose a no-deal Brexit, he said.

Opponents could gamble that an election could work in their favor and topple the Conservative government.

Former Labour Party prime minister Tony Blair warned in a speech Monday that opponents should be cautious about seeking an election. He said that could be an “elephant trap” laid by Johnson. He noted that Corbyn, a far-left leader, is so unpopular with many voters, and the opposition is so divided, that the Conservatives might win a general election.

Parliament is scheduled to meet for just three days this week; no session is scheduled for Friday. Any legislation to ban a no-deal Brexit would require approval in the House of Commons and the House of Lords — a process that normally takes weeks.

Analysts said emergency legislation can move faster. But it is still unclear whether it could be approved this week. Johnson’s 5-week suspension of Parliament is scheduled to begin as early as Sunday.

A flash point in this week’s Parliamentary skirmishes will come Wednesday, when Johnson holds his first “Prime Minister’s Questions” in the House of Commons.


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