Johnson Flies Back to Face U.K. Parliament as Brexit Chaos Deepens

LONDON (Reuters) -
Donald Tusk (L.), president of the European Council, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Monday. (Don Emmert/POOL via Reuters)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was flying home on Wednesday as determined as ever to push through Britain’s departure from the European Union but facing reinvigorated opposition to his plans after the Supreme Court ruled he had unlawfully suspended Parliament.

It is unclear exactly what will happen next in the tortuous Brexit process following the court’s momentous decision, although Johnson can expect a tongue-lashing when Parliament sits again on Wednesday morning.

Johnson has rejected calls from some political opponents to resign, but opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday now was not the time for Parliament to try and bring him down.

“Quite simply, our first priority is to prevent a no-deal exit from the EU on the 31st of October,” Corbyn said in an interview on BBC Radio 4.

Johnson has insisted he will lead Britain out of the EU on that date with or without an exit agreement, but most members of Parliament are equally determined to prevent a so-called “no-deal Brexit” scenario.

The House of Commons, where Johnson has no majority, will reconvene Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday that his decision to suspend it for five weeks was unlawful and therefore null and void.

Before the suspension, Parliament had passed a law requiring Johnson to ask the EU to push back the deadline if no exit deal was agreed by Oct. 19. Corbyn said he and other opposition legislators would focus on ensuring that Johnson abided by that law.

Asked by reporters in New York on Tuesday how he planned to overcome that legal obstacle, Johnson simply ignored the question and insisted Brexit would take place on Oct. 31 come what may.

Johnson has repeatedly said his preferred Brexit outcome would be to agree an exit deal with the EU’s 27 other members before the deadline and that he was hopeful he would achieve that.

However, EU negotiators say he has made no new proposals capable of breaking the deadlock over the issue of how to manage the border between Ireland, an EU member, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, after Brexit.

Opposition leader Corbyn said in the BBC interview that once a no-deal Brexit had been averted, it would be appropriate to move a motion of no-confidence to force the government to resign and then have a general election.