Boris Johnson’s rough week got a bit rougher on Friday when opposition parties united in an effort to ensure the already-embattled prime minister cannot take the UK out of the EU without a deal.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru came together ahead of a Monday vote, during which they apparently plan to block Boris’s second attempt to call a snap election.
Earlier this week, Johnson lost an initial bid to force a vote pending the passage of a bill that would require him to request a three-month extension on Brexit in the event he can’t secure a deal with the EU ahead of October 31. The House of Lords passed that bill on Friday.
Ostensibly, the opposition would have agreed to a general election once the bill became law, but now it appears lawmakers want to secure the actual delay first.
“Under legislation being pushed through the House of Lords on Friday, Johnson would be required to write to the EU to seek a fresh Brexit delay on October 19 if he hasn’t secured a new agreement by then”, Bloomberg writes, on the way to noting that “opposition parties are unlikely to approve a general election until the letter has been written to the EU”.
That, in turn, means no election until November, given that 25 days have to elapse from the time an election is called before it can be held.
This is just insult to injury for Boris, whose own brother resigned this week in protest.
On Thursday, Johnson said he’d prefer to die in a ditch than delay Brexit. “They don’t want the election, perhaps they don’t think they will win”, Boris told Sky. “Fine. I’ll go to Brussels, I’ll get a deal, and we’ll make sure we come out on October 31”.
When queried on whether he’d consider resigning if he fails to deliver on that promise, he said “that is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate”. (He may eventually have to.)
Meanwhile, the worse things get for Boris, the better for the pound, which has risen more than 1% this week amid Johnson’s string of humiliations.
Indeed, some strategists now see Jeremy Corbyn as preferable.
Still, the risk of a no-deal Brexit will continue to cast a pall over the outlook “given that recent polls still suggest the pro-Brexit parties can come very close to winning a majority if a snap election is held in coming months”, Credit Agricole said Friday.