British lawmakers on Monday demanded Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government release private correspondence about Brexit and plans to suspended Parliament, weeks before the United Kingdom is slated to leave the European Union.
Legislators want the government to make available text messages and emails from aides and officials relating to the suspension of parliament and Britain's exit from the EU amid accusations Johnson is using the break to circumvent opposition to the planned Oct. 31 exit without a deal in place.
Lawmakers won't return to session until Oct. 14 and many fear Britain leaving without an agreement would be economically devastating.
People walk past markings by protestors on the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced optimism Monday that a new Brexit deal can be reached so Britain leaves the European Union by Oct. 31.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
"It is blindingly obvious why we are being shut down — to prevent scrutiny," Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said.
The government is obliged to release the documents under parliamentary rules. It would "consider the implications of this vote and respond in due course," according to a government statement.
In efforts to stop Johnson's plans, rebel lawmakers passed a law Monday designed to stop Brexit if no divorce deal has been agreed to by Oct. 19.
The law requires the government to seek a three-month delay from withdrawing from the EU. Johnson, who has had a turbulent few weeks since taking office, said he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than postpone Brexit.
"I will not ask for another delay," he said Monday.
He kicked 21 lawmakers out of Parliament's Conservative group after they defected to the opposition and two ministers — one of them being his brother — recently quit amid the political infighting. Determined to move forward, Johnson said he planned to ask lawmakers to back a general election with the hope of winning majority support to back his Brexit strategy.
Opposition lawmakers said they plan to vote down a snap election unless a no-deal Brexit departure is blocked beforehand.
The suspension of Parliament has garnered criticism from Johnson's political opponents who see it as anti-democratic and illegal. Johnson said the break is needed so he can outline his domestic agenda at a new parliamentary session in October.
The debate over how Britain will leave the EU has raged since voters approved the measure three years ago.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits in the back of a car as he leaves parliament in London, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced optimism Monday that a new Brexit deal can be reached so Britain leaves the European Union by Oct. 31.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned Johnson that "there's no such thing as a clean break," and if Britain crashed out, it would "cause severe disruption for British and Irish people alike."
The EU says Britain has not produced any concrete proposals for replacing the contentious "backstop," a provision in the withdrawal agreement reached by Johnson's predecessor Theresa May that is designed to ensure an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland.
An open border is crucial to the regional economy and underpins the peace process that ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.