(Bloomberg) — Boris Johnson stressed his “absolute commitment” to leaving the EU on Oct. 31 and said he would “turbo-charge” preparations for a no-deal divorce as he set out his priorities for government. He made the pledges in a speech to Parliament after the first meeting of his new cabinet on Thursday morning.
Boris Johnson chaired the first meeting of his CabinetPrime minister speaks and faces questions in House of CommonsMust Read: Champagne and Magic Complete Johnson’s RebrandingRead More:The Great Brexit Purge: Johnson’s Cabinet Cull
Johnson Drops Another Election Hint (12:15 p.m.)
Boris Johnson, answering a question from Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford, dropped another hint that his mind is on an election. “If we can deliver a fantastic and a sensible and a progressive Brexit, which I believe we can, and the whole U.K. comes out as I know that it will, what happens then to the arguments of the SNP?” he asked.
He then suggested that if the SNP campaigned for an independent Scotland to re-enter the EU, it would be signing up to joining the Euro and giving up control of its fishing grounds.
“That is not the basis on which to seek election in Scotland,” Johnson said. “We will win on a manifesto for the whole U.K.”
The entire exchange suggests Johnson’s preferred option is to hold an election after delivering a successful Brexit. But talk of election manifestos suggests the direction of his thinking.
Johnson Bombards Corbyn to Tory Delight (12:10 p.m.)
The new Tory leader’s first appearance in the House of Commons as prime minister showed why the party picked him: to take on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
Johnson savaged the opposition leader and his finance spokesman John McDonnell in the kind of ferocious attack Theresa May never delivered in her three years in power.
He said Corbyn had flip flopped on Brexit and was now “a Remainer” and provoked McDonnell to rise from his seat, wave him away and pour himself a glass of water from the table in the middle of the Commons chamber.
Tory MPs loved it, roaring their approval as Johnson finished his verbal assault, claiming he now led the real “people’s party.”
NHS is ‘Not For Sale,’ Johnson Says (12 p.m.)
In answer to a question from Jeremy Corbyn about a future trade deal with the U.S., Johnson ruled out including the state-funded National Health Service. “It’s not for sale,” he told MPs.
Corbyn Criticizes Johnson’s Trump Links (11:55 a.m.)
Opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked Johnson for his links to Donald Trump, using the U.S. President’s own words to call the new premier “Britain Trump.” He urged Johnson to rule out including the U.K.’s National Health Service in any trade deal with the U.S.
Other criticisms surrounded the support for the death penalty expressed by the new home secretary, Priti Patel, and Johnson’s infamous “f*** business” remark to a European ambassador. On Brexit, Corbyn said if Johnson is confident in his plan, he should put it to a public vote.
“Labour will oppose any deal that fails to protect jobs, workers’ rights or environmental protections,” Corbyn said. ”And if he has the confidence to put that decision back to the people, we will campaign to Remain,” Corbyn added, reiterating the current Labour line on a second referendum.
Johnson: National Spirit Makes No-Deal Possible (11:50 a.m.)
Boris Johnson sought to establish the idea that preparing for a no-deal Brexit should be a national effort to reduce disruption. “I believe that is possible with the kind of national effort that the British people have made before and will make again,” he said.
Although he didn’t specify when the British people had made such efforts before, many on the Tory benches will have taken it as an invocation of World War II, a key historical moment for many backers of Brexit.
Johnson Calls for Turbo-Charged No-Deal Plans (11:45 a.m.)
Johnson said he has instructed his Cabinet to ramp up preparations for leaving the European Union, telling the House of Commons he’s instructed Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid to make available “all necessary funding.”
Michael Gove, who runs machinery of government, will make no-deal preparedness his “top priority,” Johnson said.
“In the 98 days that remain to us, we must turbo-charge our preparations to make sure that there is as little disruption as possible to our national life,” Johnson said.
Arms Waving, Johnson Rallies Tories (11:40 a.m.)
Johnson’s arrival was greeted in the Commons by cheers from his own side. His style could not be more different from Theresa May’s.
At the dispatch box, he waved his arms for emphasis, pausing his statement during the key passage on Brexit for effect.
On the government front bench behind him, sat Johnson’s new Cabinet. Home Secretary Priti Patel and Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid were in prominent places.
Johnson Says ‘Mission’ is to Leave EU on Oct. 31 (11:35 a.m.)
Boris Johnson said his government’s mission is to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31 and described the deal struck by Theresa May as “unacceptable to this Parliament and this country.”
“I would prefer us to leave the EU with a deal, I believe it is possible even at this late stage,” Johnson said. He said he and his team are ready to meet and talk with EU negotiators “wherever and whenever,”
The Irish backstop must be removed from the U.K. Withdrawal Agreement with the EU and everyone in the cabinet is committed to leaving on Oct. 31 “whatever the circumstances,” Johnson said.
Britain will “throw itself” into negotiations and “turbo-charge” preparations for a no-deal divorce, Johnson said. He said the 39 billion pounds would be available for the work.
Johnson Will Address No-Deal Planning (11:10 a.m.)
Boris Johnson will address preparations for a no-deal split from the EU when he addresses Parliament later, Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg told the House of Commons.
“It’s jolly good news we’ve got an administration that’s committed to leaving the European Union,” Rees-Mogg said in answer to an MP’s question about no-deal planning. “Preparedness is of great importance, I think he might find there are some encouraging words coming from the prime minister a bit later.”
Rees-Mogg: MPs Voted to Leave EU by Oct. 31 (10:53 a.m.)
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new leader of the House, argued Parliament has already given its approval to leaving the EU on Oct. 31, regardless of whether a deal has been reached with the EU. MPs have already passed laws putting the Brexit process in motion, he said.
“With relation to leaving the European Union, this Parliament voted for the Withdrawal Act and said we would leave,” he said. “Parliament debated, Parliament decided, parliamentary democracy requires we deliver.”
Brexiteer Baker Eyes Treasury Committee Chair (10.45 a.m.)
Boris Johnson hasn’t so far found a job for Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group and a man who coordinated opposition to Theresa May’s deal. Baker was an early backer of Johnson, giving him the Brexiteer stamp of approval.
Baker may yet be appointed to a non-Cabinet ministerial position, but if he’s not, what would he like to do instead? This morning he said in a brief interview that he has his eye on the chairmanship of Parliament’s Treasury Committee, vacant now Nicky Morgan has become Culture Secretary.
It’s one of Parliament’s most powerful committees, and would be a good pulpit from which Baker would be able to make life difficult for the government. And not just on Brexit. “It would allow me to pursue my other interest — monetary policy reform,” he said. Baker is an advocate of ending the days of fiat money creation.
Rees-Mogg Doesn’t Rule Out Prorogation (10:45 a.m.)
Jacob Rees- Mogg, the new leader of the House of Commons didn’t rule out suspending Parliament to force through Brexit.
Asked about it in his weekly question and answer session, he told MPs: “The prime minister has said he views prorogation as an archaic mechanism and he doesn’t wish to see archaic mechanisms used. As I’m now bound by collective responsibility that’s now my view.”
Swinson Urges Corbyn to Call No-Confidence Vote (10:05 a.m.)
Jo Swinson, the newly elected leader of the Liberal Democrats, has written to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urging him to call a vote of no-confidence in Boris Johnson’s new government.
“Boris Johnson does not hold a mandate from Parliament or the general public to be Prime Minister,” Swinson wrote. “His reckless refusal to rule out proroguing Parliament in order to crash the U.K. out of the EU without a deal demonstrates that he is not fit to lead this country.”
She points out that Corbyn, as leader of the official opposition, is the only person in a position to call such a vote. “You must not sit back and allow this government to crash our country out of the EU,” she wrote.
Labour has so far resisted calls for a no-confidence vote, saying the party will do so only when there is a good chance of success.
Sunak: Govt Could Use EU Payment for Economy (8:45 a.m.)
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak suggested the government could spend the 39 billion-pound ($49 billion) financial settlement to stimulate the economy — depending on the outcome of negotiations with the European Union.
“That will no doubt be a discussion for the future but the point is we won’t be writing a check on day one for 39 billion pounds,” Sunak told BBC Radio.
It’s a position that risks angering the bloc because the agreed sum is a settlement of past and current liabilities — with a portion owed for ongoing projects. The bloc has repeatedly said the payment is a key component of the divorce settlement and not related to any future trade deal.
Also asked how he expects the EU to respond to the tougher line taken by Johnson, Sunak predicted the bloc would negotiate. “They said they would never give us an extension until we passed the withdrawal agreement — they didn’t just give us one, they gave us a couple,” he said.
There’s No Time For Doubt: Duncan Smith (7:50 a.m.)
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who was chairman of Johnson’s leadership campaign, said there’s not enough time before the new prime minister’s Oct. 31 Brexit deadline for there to be doubters in cabinet.
“If you’ve got 100 days, you cannot have people who say ‘you know what, I’m not sure about this,’” Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4.
He said Amber Rudd and Nicky Morgan, regarded as more moderate voices on Brexit, will be able to have their say in cabinet discussions, contradicting Nick Boles’s claim (see 7:35 a.m.) that they will be “neutered.”
Boles: New Cabinet Shows Hard Right Takeover (7:35 a.m.)
Nick Boles, who sits in the House of Commons as an independent after quitting the Tory Party over the inflexibility of hardline Brexiteers, said Johnson’s reshuffle shows that the party has been taken over.
“It’s very clarifying because what it establishes beyond all doubt is that the Conservative Party has been taken over top to bottom by the hard right,” Boles told BBC radio. “They’re turning themselves into the Brexit Party in order to hold off Nigel Farage.”
“These are not normal center ground pragmatic politicians, these are ideologically motivated people from the hard right,” Boles said.
Boles, who voted three times for Theresa May’s deal with the EU, said Nicky Morgan and Amber Rudd, who had previously opposed a no-deal split with the bloc, are “neutered captives” in the new cabinet. They have had to agree to be open to leaving without an agreement — and the damage that could cause to the U.K. economy — to get their jobs, he said.
The Great Purge: Johnson Culls Cabinet to Make His Brexit MarkWelcome to 10 Downing, Boris Johnson. You Have Some Work to DoChampagne and Magic Complete Johnson’s Rebranding as U.K. Leader
–With assistance from Thomas Penny and Kitty Donaldson.
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