August 8, 2019 / 9:35 PM / 10 days ago

Forcing a no-deal Brexit would be 'abuse of power', says Labour's Corbyn

FILE PHOTO: Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a rally calling for a general election in London, Britain July 25,2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - Forcing through a no-deal Brexit during an election campaign would be “an unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power” by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Thursday

In a letter to cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill, Britain’s most senior government official, Corbyn said Labour would never support leaving the European Union without a deal and was concerned after reports suggested Johnson would do exactly that.

Earlier this month, the Sunday Telegraph said Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior adviser, had told ministers that the prime minister could schedule a new election after the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if he lost a vote of no confidence.

Some lawmakers are looking at ways to try to stop any move to take Britain out of the EU without a deal, including bringing a motion of no confidence against Johnson’s government, which has a majority of one, when parliament reconvenes in September.

“Forcing through no-deal against a decision of parliament, and denying the choice to the voters in a general election already underway, would be an unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power by a prime minister elected, not by the public, but by a small number of unrepresentative Conservative Party members,” Corbyn wrote.

He went on to write that according to election rules any matters of policy which a new government might want to change should be postponed until after any new election.

“I would therefore be grateful for your confirmation that, if the UK is due to leave the EU without a deal during a general election campaign, the government should seek a time-limited extension to Article 50, to let the electorate decide and the incoming government take the next steps on the basis of the voters’ wishes.”

Johnson has promised to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, increasing the possibility of a no-deal Brexit that has sent the pound tumbling.

But parliament, which has so far failed to ratify any deal to leave the EU, has repeatedly voted against a no-deal Brexit, setting up a likely battle with the government when lawmakers return from their summer break in September.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison

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