‘Any means necessary’: Protesters explode

 

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament for part of the run-up to the October 31 Brexit deadline faces mounting legal and political challenges ahead of a weekend of planned street protests.

The government's plan would shorten the time political opponents in Parliament would have in their bid to prevent Britain from leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31 if no agreement with the EU is reached by then.

There are three ongoing court tests to Mr Johnson's plan, which he says is routine but will shorten the time in which opponents in parliament could seek to pass legislation blocking a disorderly "no deal" departure from the EU.

The PM warned yesterday that any attempt to by MPs next week to stop Brexit or delay it beyond October 31 would do "lasting damage" to public trust in politics.

 

A Scottish judge on Friday declined to issue an immediate injunction to block the suspension of Parliament but set up a full hearing on Tuesday on the legal bid launched by cross-party legislators determined to keep parliament in session.

A separate case in London has also received the heavyweight backing of former prime minister John Major - a fellow Conservative from Mr Johnson's party - and from Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party.

Major hopes to formally join the case started by activist Gina Miller so he can argue that Mr Johnson has exceeded his authority by asking the Queen to shutter parliament for several weeks during the crucial period before the Brexit deadline.

"If granted permission to intervene, I intend to seek to assist the court from the perspective of having served in government as a minister and prime minister, and also in parliament for many years as a member of the House of Commons," he said.

A case is being heard in Northern Ireland as well.

The various courts are being asked to intervene in what is seen by Mr Johnson's opponents as a power grab that undercuts the sovereignty of parliament.

It is too early to gauge the possible impact of street protests planned for Saturday in London and other major British cities.

The pound slid on the surprise news, which opponents branded a "coup" and a "declaration of war" but Mr Johnson claimed was necessary to allow him to pursue a "bold and ambitious" new domestic legislative agenda.

Thousands of demonstrators outside parliament earlier this week. Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Thousands of demonstrators outside parliament earlier this week. Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

 

Activists hope a massive turnout could influence vacillating members of parliament when it reconvenes on Tuesday after a summer recess.

Organisers say more than 30 protests have been planned in cities throughout the UK.

Shami Chakrabarti, a senior adviser to the Labour Party on justice issues, told BBC radio that she is hopeful there is enough opposition in parliament to block Johnson from carrying out a "no deal" departure.

"If they try any more of this stuff we will use any means necessary to prevent this undemocratic behaviour - that includes people taking to the streets, that includes people taking to the airwaves, that includes people going to court," she said.

The defiant prime minister warned yesterday that opposition to his plans is weakening Britain's negotiating position by giving EU leaders the impression that parliament may step in to block Brexit.

"I'm afraid that the more our friends and partners think, at the back of their mind, that Brexit could be stopped, that the UK could be kept in by parliament, the less likely they are to give us the deal that we need," Mr Johnson told Sky News.

He said there was still time to make a deal with the EU.


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