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Boris Johnson warns MPs of 'mortal retribution' if they block a no-deal Brexit

Business Insider | Jun 25, 2019, 01.38PM IST

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  • Boris Johnson said that MPs will not block a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
  • A government minister has warned that around a dozen Conservative MPs would bring down the government in order to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal on Halloween.
  • However, Johnson said MPs will allow a no-deal to happen as they'll face "mortal retribution" if Brexit does not happen on Halloween as scheduled.
  • The frontrunner to succeed Theresa May told the BBC that he can renegotiate the Brexit deal to remove the backstop as there is "real positive energy" in Brussels for doing so.
  • He rowed back on his previous suggestion that the UK could have a transition period without a Brexit deal.

LONDON - Members of Parliaments will face "mortal retribution" from voters if they block a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson has said.

Growing numbers of pro-European Conservative MPs, such as the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve and former Chancellor Ken Clarke, have said publicly that they would support a vote of no confidence in a Johnson-led government in order to stop it pursuing a no-deal Brexit later this year.

Their colleague Tobias Ellwood told the BBC's Panorama programme that a "dozen or so" Conservative MPs in total would bring down the government in order to prevent a disruptive no-deal scenario.

However, in an interview with the BBC, Johnson - the front runner to succeed Theresa May as Conservative party leader and prime minister - said that all political parties would face dire consequence if they stop a Halloween Brexit.

"I think Parliament now understands," Johnson told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg this week.

"That the British people want us to come out and to honour the mandate that they gave us.

"And I think that MPs on both sides of the House also understand that they will face mortal retribution from the electorate unless we get on and do it."

The former foreign secretary said that recent election results have made MPs more reluctant to stand in the way of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31.

"What has changed since 29 March is that my beloved party is down at 17 points in the polls. Labour isn't doing much better as I say with superhuman incompetence Corbyn managed to go backwards in the recent council elections."

Johnson has promised to take the UK out of the EU on October 31, with or without a Withdrawal Agreement.

He said that while he did not expect to leave without a deal, the UK should abandon the defeatism and negativity that has enfolded us in a great cloud for so long" and "prepare confidently and seriously" for it.

Boris Johnson

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In his interview with the BBC, Johnson rowed back on his previous suggestion that the UK could have a transition or "implementation period" in a no-deal scenario.

But he insisted that, despite the EU's firm public statements to the contrary, the Withdrawal Agreement could be re-negotiated to remove the contentious backstop policy for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Johnson said there was "real positive energy about getting it done" in Brussels and claimed that technology which could replace the backstop does exist, despite the UK government, EU and myriad experts stating otherwise.

"Let me tell you, there are abundant, abundant technical fixes that can be introduced to make sure that you don't have to have checks at the border. That's the crucial thing," Johnson told the BBC.

Johnson refused to be drawn on the incident reported last week involving himself and his partner, Carrie Symonds, which led to neighbours calling the Police.

"I do not talk about stuff involving my family, my loved ones," he told the BBC.

"And there's a very good reason for that.

"That is that, if you do, you drag them into things that really is... not fair on them."

Johnson and leadership rival Jeremy Hunt are currently traveling around the country and partaking in hustings for Conservative members before the latter chooses the next prime minister at the end of July.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain's departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider's political reporters. Join here.

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