British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Monday for a general election to try to end the Brexit impasse, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under pressure to recall parliament.
Corbyn said his Labour Party would offer a second referendum on the 2016 decision to quit the European Union if it wins any election. Conservative leader Johnson does not want to call an election but may be forced to if he loses the confidence of parliament.
‘Labour believes the decision on how to solve the Brexit crisis must go back to the people,’ Corbyn was quoted as saying by Britain's Press Association.
‘And if there is a general election this autumn, Labour will commit to holding a public vote to give voters the final say with credible options on both sides including the option to remain.
‘A general election triggered by the Tory [Conservative] Brexit crisis will be a crossroads for our country. It will be a once-in-a-generation chance for a real change of direction potentially on the scale of 1945.’ Johnson has vowed to stick to an October 31 deadline for Britain to leave, even if there is no deal in place to regulate the country's departure.
The EU has shown no signs of giving in to Johnson's demand to renegotiate an exit deal agreed with his predecessor Theresa May.
Johnson will hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week in a bid to try to change their minds.
He wants to remove the controversial Irish backstop, which is designed to avoid a hard border between Britain and Ireland but which he fears could still tie Britain into the EU even after Brexit.
May's deal failed to get through the British parliament, which includes many lawmakers who want to try to block a no-deal Brexit, including Corbyn.
His finance spokesman John McDonnell said parliament should be reconvened ‘in the next few days’ from summer recess.
‘There is a need now to bring MPs back together again because we need time now to really have a proper debate and discussion about this matter,’ he told BBC radio, according to the Press Association.
Government documents leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper showed Britain could face food, medicine and fuel shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Months of chaos at the country's ports and a hard Irish border could also follow, the report added.
Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister responsible for no-deal strategy, said the documents represented a ‘worst-case scenario’ and plans for an October 31 exit under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules were being accelerated.
In Brussels, a European Commission spokeswoman warned of the ‘significant disruption’ and ‘serious negative economic impact’ of a no-deal Brexit, in which EU law would cease to apply to Britain overnight.
The effect would be ‘proportionately much greater’ in Britain than in the remaining 27 EU member states, added the spokeswoman, Natasha Bertaud.
‘We are prepared for all eventualities,’ Bertaud said, referring to a series of contingency measures drafted by Brussels.
However, the commission's most recent report, from June, identifies several unresolved issues in the case of a no-deal Brexit, including the registration of various British medical products and chemicals for sale in the EU.
Officials in Brussels also expect long waiting times at borders, especially for lorries, if Britain leaves the EU without a transitional deal in place.
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