Labour has warned Boris Johnson that it is ready to take action through the courts if he tries to push through a no-deal Brexit against the will of Parliament.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the party would do “whatever it takes” to prevent the UK leaving the EU at the end of the month without an agreement.
Addressing the Co-operative Party conference in Glasgow, Sir Keir said that if the Prime Minister was unable to secure a deal at next week’s crucial EU summit, he must comply with the so-called Benn Act and seek a further delay.
“If he can’t – or I should say won’t – get a deal we will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent our country crashing out of the EU without a deal,” he said.
“If no deal is secured by this time next week, Boris Johnson must seek and accept an extension. That’s the law. No ifs, no buts.
“And if he doesn’t, we’ll enforce the law – in the courts and in Parliament. Whatever it takes, we will prevent a no-deal Brexit.”
Sir Keir poured scorn on suggestions Mr Johnson could get round the law by accompanying a request for an extension with a second letter to the EU saying he did not really want one.
“That’s the equivalent of attaching a post-it note to divorce papers saying ‘Only kidding’. It’s a ridiculous idea.”
With EU and UK officials continuing to negotiate over the weekend, Sir Keir said that if the Prime Minister did succeed in getting an agreement, Labour would demand it was put to the public in a fresh referendum.
“If Boris Johnson does manage to negotiate a deal then we will insist that it is put back to the people in a confirmatory vote,” he said.
With Parliament set to sit in a special emergency Saturday session at the end of the week, Sir Keir said it appeared any agreement Mr Johnson was able to negotiate would be “even worse” than Theresa May’s rejected deal.
“No level playing field protections. No customs union. A green light to deregulate. That kind of deal can never be one Labour supports,” he said.
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