A day after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plan to suspend Parliament until just before Britain is to depart from the European Union, furious anti-Brexiteers are rallying the opposition and warning that the new prime minister intends to lead the U.K. “straight into the arms” of President Trump.
“We’re back in parliament Tuesday to challenge Boris Johnson on what I think is a smash-and-grab raid on our democracy,” left-wing Labour Party opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said.
Johnson requested on Wednesday that Queen Elizabeth II suspend Parliament until a Queen’s Speech on Oct. 14. While the request in and of itself is not unusual, opponents say the timing – just weeks before Britain is scheduled to leave the E.U. on Oct. 31 – is a move to shut down debate from anti-Brexit forces who are looking to stop Britain from leaving the union without a formal withdrawal agreement. The Queen accepted the request.
Johnson has said he would prefer to leave with a deal with E.U. leaders, but is prepared to leave without one if E.U. leaders won’t meet British demands. But pro-Remain forces say that such a “no-deal” Brexit would be a disaster.
Corbyn said he wants to launch a parliamentary process to legislate against such a departure and accused Johnson of leading the U.K. into a “the arms of Donald Trump” by securing a trade deal with the U.S.
“A no deal Brexit would mean trade immediately at risk, jobs immediately at risk, the Northern Irish border suddenly re-imposed because there would no deal whatsoever, no backstop of any sort and he would lead us straight into the arms of Donald Trump and a putative trade arrangement with the United States which will be very damaging to our economy and, despite what he says, I believe will mean U.S. health care corporations lining up to take over our NHS,” he said, referring to Britain’s National Health Service.
Later, a joint statement from Labour, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats and other left-wing parties condemned what they called "the undemocratic actions" of Johnson.
"There is no mandate from the public for a damaging No Deal Brexit. The Prime Minister is shutting down Parliament with the sole aim of stopping MPs from avoiding a No Deal Brexit," the statement said.
Meanwhile, business owner and activist Gina Miller, who won a ruling in 2017 that forced the government to win a vote in Parliament before triggering the Brexit process, announced she intends to challenge the suspension of Parliament in court.
Corbyn has called on those opposed to Brexit to rally behind him in a no-confidence vote to oust Johnson and install him as a temporary prime minister. A vote could be called as early as next week when Parliament returns from recess.
Johnson has little room for error, with a slim majority of one in the House of Commons, and anti-Brexiteers in his own party could scupper him if they side with the opposition. Some have already threatened to do so.
Johnson was also hit Thursday by the resignation of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. She has clashed with Johnson in the past, although she cited family reasons for standing down in her resignation speech.
Johnson’s supporters, meanwhile, said the warnings about a no-deal Brexit were an extension of a “Project Fear” that has been in place since Brits voted to leave the bloc in 2016, and that the opposition calling Johnson’s latest move a “coup” is just sour grapes from those unhappy at the referendum result.
"I think the outrage is phony and it is created by people who don't want us to leave the European Union and are trying very hard to overturn the referendum result and don't want the benefits of leaving the European Union," House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said in an interview with the BBC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.