LONDON (Reuters) – Parliament will block a no-deal Brexit if unelected people behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson try to wrench Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without agreement, former finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday.
FILE PHOTO: Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond leaves the BBC studios in London, Britain, July 21, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
The United Kingdom is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Johnson has vowed to leave the bloc in 78 days time without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate a Brexit divorce.
After more than three years of Brexit dominating EU affairs, the bloc has repeatedly refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which includes an Irish border insurance policy that Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, agreed in November.
Hammond, who served as May’s finance minister for three years, said unelected people in Johnson’s Downing Street office were setting London on an “inevitable” course towards a no-deal Brexit by demanding the backstop be dropped.
“The people behind this know that that means that there will be no deal,” Hammond told the BBC. “Parliament is clearly opposed to a no-deal exit, and the prime minister must respect that.”
The former minister’s first public intervention since resigning indicates the determination of a group of influential lawmakers to thwart Johnson if he goes for a no-deal Brexit.
Hammond said he was confident parliament, where a majority oppose a no-deal Brexit, would find a way to block that outcome.
It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the 800-year-old heart of British democracy to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 – likely to be the United Kingdom’s most consequential move since World War Two.