The opposition parties say they won’t support U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for a mid-October general election when the issue comes to a vote next week.
After discussions Friday, capping a turbulent week in U.K. politics, opposition legislators said they would not back an election until the government asks the European Union to delay Brexit. An election can only be triggered if two-thirds of lawmakers agree.
Johnson has said an election is the only way to break the Brexit impasse. But opponents don’t want to agree unless they can ensure he can’t take Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce agreement, as he has threatened to do.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn held talks Friday with other opposition leaders about next week’s vote in Parliament.
Johnson has lost one such vote, but plans to try again Monday, after saying on Thursday he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than go and ask Brussels for a delay to Brexit.
Parliament is in the midst of passing an opposition-backed law that would compel the Conservative government to seek a Brexit postponement if no deal is agreed on by late October. The bill is likely to become law Monday, and many pro-EU MPs want to hold off on triggering an election until it is set in stone, fearing Johnson will try to wriggle out of the commitment.
Labour foreign affairs spokesperson Emily Thornberry said Johnson was “as slippery as can be” and could not be trusted.
Johnson’s push to leave the EU by Halloween, with or without a divorce deal to smooth the way, is facing stiff opposition, both in Parliament and in the courts.
Court rejects challenge to suspending Parliament
On Friday, Britain’s High Court rejected a claim that Johnson is acting unlawfully in suspending Parliament for several weeks ahead of the country’s scheduled departure from the EU.
Johnson enraged his opponents by announcing he would send legislators home at some point next week until Oct. 14, just over two weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU. Critics accused him of subverting democracy and carrying out a “coup.”
Transparency campaigner Gina Miller took the government to court, arguing the suspension was an “unlawful abuse of power.”
A panel of three High Court judges ruled against her, but said the case can be appealed to the Supreme Court, which has set a hearing for Sept. 17.
Outside court, Miller said she was disappointed with the ruling but “pleased that the judges have given us permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
“To give up now would be a dereliction of our responsibility. We need to protect our institutions. It is not right that they should be shut down or bullied, especially at this momentous time in our history.”