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No-deal Brexit bill clears final hurdle ahead of winning Royal Assent

(Xinhua)    13:48, September 07, 2019

LONDON, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Politicians in the unelected House of Lords passed a controversial bill Friday that will block Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking Britain out of the European Union unless there is a deal in place with Brussels.

The decision by House of Lords paves way for the so-called no deal bill to become law on Monday when it receives Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth.

As the bill cleared through the House of Lords without any amendments it does not have to return to the elected House of Commons.

The landmark decision, which threatens to torpedo Johnson's Brexit strategy came as opposition parties agreed to oppose, for a second time, a government demand for a general election.

Johnson lost his call for a snap election earlier this week, and plans a second attempt Monday in the House of Commons.

With the House of Commons able to sit until Thursday before a five-week suspension starts, there is time for a third attempt later next week.

Johnson wants a general election ahead of the crucial European Council summit of leaders on October 17.

There was widespread speculation among political commentators on Friday about what Johnson would do if he was forced to comply with the no-deal bill when he meets the EU Council next month.

Until now he has always insisted Britain will leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal. The new no-deal law will require him to seek a delay to Britain's departure from the bloc if no deal is in place.

The situation has fueled speculation among political journalists and commentators about what Johnson will do if he is forced to head to Brussels in mid-October shackled by the no-deal Brexit instruction from Westminster politicians.

Reporters quizzed Johnson on a visit to Scotland Friday to seek answers that could reveal his plans.

The Daily Mail in London reported that a defiant Johnson suggested Friday he will not ask the EU to delay Brexit even if he is legally required to do so under the new no-deal law. Just 24 hours earlier Johnson said he would rather be dead in a ditch than delay Britain's departure from the EU.

Asked in Scotland if he would seek the extension required under the new law, Johnson replied: "I will not. I don't want a delay," according to the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail said Johnson's answer is likely to be interpreted as meaning he will either defy the law or resign as prime minister.

"The former (defying the law) would appear almost unthinkable for a prime minister and would spark a political, legal and constitutional firestorm. If he were to resign, the Queen would ask MPs if anyone else could form a government capable of commanding a majority in the Commons and if the answer was no there would have to be an election," the newspaper speculated.

Various media following Johnson to Scotland where he met farmers, widely reported that Johnson declined to rule out resigning if he fails to deliver Brexit by the current deadline.

Johnson said: "That is not a hypothesis I'm willing to contemplate. I want us to get this thing (Brexit) done."

The Guardian reported from Scotland that Johnson told reporters he would get a Brexit deal.

The newspaper commented: "He also said that part of him still yearns to believe that the Loch News Monster exists, suggesting he has a weakness for believing in the impossible."

Tom Brake, the Lib Dem Brexit spokesman for the minority Liberal Democrat Party, said the no-deal law meant going to Brussels and securing that extension to Britain's membership of the EU.

Brakes said if Johnson chooses to disobey the law, and not follow what parliament has required him to do, the opposition parties have agreed to take all necessary action to enforce that.

Brake was commenting after the opposition parties agreed they will oppose Johnson's bid, to be tabled on Monday, seeking a general election. It almost guarantees another defeat for Johnson.

It also means the focus will switch next week to whether an election takes place in October, ahead of the October 31 Brexit deadline, or in November.

In an analysis Friday the Daily Telegraph said a delay of a few weeks in holding a snap general election could be the difference between a thumping Conservative majority and a hung parliament.

"The reason for this lies in the volatility of the polls. So far this year three parties, Brexit Party, Labour and the Conservatives, have led in the Telegraph's rolling average at some point, while back in June it looked as though we'd entered an era of four-party politics," the commentary added.

A new poll, said the Telegraph, shows a general election held tomorrow, would hand Johnson's Conservatives 354 of the Commons' 650 seats, while Labour would lose 40 seats in the scenario. But if the election takes place after October 31, the Conservatives lead would vanish, and they would end up neck-and-neck with Labour.

"This would be electorally disastrous for Johnson," the analysis concluded.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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