Thursday, February 20, 2020 | ePaper

MPs set to block snap election

Johnson seeks Brexit breakthrough

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Demonstrators faced police in London during an anti-govt protest calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign.

Capital News :
Johnson held talks with Leo Varadkar amid an apparent stalemate in the Brexit process and as MPs look set to vote down his second bid for a snap poll next month.
The British leader has vowed to take Britain out of the EU by October 31 with or without a formal divorce deal - despite warnings that the latter scenario would entail economic chaos.
He wants the bloc to scrap a special provision in the deal agreed by his predecessor Theresa May to keep the Northern Irish border open in all circumstances after Brexit, arguing "alternative arrangements" exist.
"I won't say that we can do it all today, but I believe there is a deal to be done by October 18," a characteristically upbeat Johnson said ahead of his first face-to-face talks with Varadkar since taking office in July.
He added that failing to find a compromise, resulting in Britain leaving the bloc
without a deal, "would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible." But Brussels and Dublin have insisted the so-called backstop mechanism must remain in place to guarantee no return to a hard border between and EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland, which suffered decades of deadly sectarian violence.
"The backstop continues to be a critical component of the withdrawal agreement, unless and until an alternative is found," Varadkar said, standing beside Johnson.
"We are open to alternatives. But they must be realistic ones, legally binding and workable.
"We have received no such proposals to date," he added.
Johnson finds himself increasingly cornered just six weeks after taking over from May.
British MPs last week passed a law - set to get royal assent on Monday - that forces him to seek an extension to Brexit if he fails to agree a withdrawal deal at an October 17-18 EU summit.
Johnson, who had ordered parliament to be suspended from this week until mid-October in a bid to avoid such legislation, tried to call a snap election for next month in response.
Demonstrators faced police in London during an anti-government protest calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign © AFP/File / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
But that would require the approval of two-thirds of MPs in parliament, which blocked the move last week.

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