Opposition leaders meet over plans to stop Boris Johnson ignoring Benn Act
Opposition leaders have discussed plans to ensure Boris Johnson asks for a Brexit extension, with fears he could flout the law introduced to prevent a no-deal.
Jeremy Corbyn held cross-party talks in his Westminster office on Thursday over fears the Prime Minister will refuse to ask the EU for an extension as required by the Benn Act.
The Labour leader spoke with the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, the Liberal Democrats’ head Jo Swinson, the Independent Group for Change’s Anna Soubry and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville-Roberts.
The discussion focused on how to prevent the PM ignoring the Act, which opposition MPs and Tory rebels passed to demand him to ask for a delay to Brexit until January 31, unless they back a deal.
Mr Corbyn, in an interview after the meeting, said they will take “parliamentary action” to ensure the PM does not “crash us out” of the EU on the current October 31 deadline without a deal.
“It’s not a matter of choice for him, it’s an Act of Parliament that was passed. Last night he seemed unable to give that undertaking,” Mr Corbyn said.
The leaders are set to meet again on Monday to discuss what motions they can introduce in the Commons to further force the PM to request the delay from Brussels.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly signalled that the UK would leave at the end of next month, regardless of whether a new deal is approved.
After the talks, Ms Saville-Roberts told the PA news agency: “The cross-party group believe the Act is watertight, but fear the PM could break the law.”
“They have form for us not to trust them,” she added, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that Mr Johnson’s prorogation was unlawful.
Ms Soubry added: “We did a pretty good job on the Benn Act, We think we’re alright.
“But the trouble is, I’m afraid to say, is that we have a Prime Minister who you cannot trust.”
With Ms Swinson having to leave the meeting early to speak to police about a threat made against one of her young children, they also condemned Mr Johnson’s use of language.
Mr Corbyn alleged that the PM was encouraging people to act in “disgraceful and abusive” ways.
The Labour leader called for calm as he warned that using “excessive emotive language” like betrayal and surrender creates an atmosphere in which some people take it to “unbelievable extremes”.
He also committed to to whip Labour MPs to vote for a general election as soon as a Brexit extension is secured from the EU.
“Once we have agreed on the extension and carrying out the law of this country – at that point, and I made that very clear in my conference speech – we will support a general election,” he said.