News ID: 254264
Published: 0246 GMT June 14, 2019

We will leave EU by Oct. 31, Johnson vows in pitch to be UK PM

We will leave EU by Oct. 31, Johnson vows in pitch to be UK PM
HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS
PM hopeful Boris Johnson leaves his home in London, Britain, on June 14, 2019.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be Britain’s prime minister, promised he would take the UK out of the European Union by Oct. 31, saying that only by preparing to leave without an agreement could a no-deal Brexit be prevented.

Johnson, a former foreign minister and London mayor, is the clear favorite to replace Theresa May. He won the backing of 114 of 313 Conservative lawmakers in a first round of voting on Thursday, almost three times as many as his nearest rival, Reuters reported.

The contest has been dominated by the question of how and when Britain will leave the EU, Britain’s biggest political crisis in a generation.

In his first broadcast interview since the campaign started, Johnson gave an unequivocal pledge that Brexit would happen by the latest Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 and Britain had to prepare for a no-deal exit, which he said would not be a disaster.

“All those who say that we should delay ... I think they risk doing terminal damage to trust in politics. We have to get on and do this. We’ve got to be out by Oct. 31,” Johnson told BBC Radio on Friday.

“If we have to get out on what is called no-deal terms, or WTO (World Trade Organization) terms, then it is our absolute responsibility to prepare for it. And it’s by preparing for it that we will prevent that outcome.”

May resigned as Conservative Party leader having failed three times to get her EU divorce deal through Parliament.

The bloc has said repeatedly it will not renegotiate that agreement, which was aimed at taking Britain out of the bloc on March 29, before the date was pushed back twice to October.

Johnson said he did not want a no-deal Brexit but he ruled out a further extension beyond the current Oct. 31 deadline.

Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said earlier on Friday that Johnson’s Brexit proposals had to be scrutinized.

“What would Churchill say if somebody who wants to be prime minister of the United Kingdom was hiding away from the media, not taking part in these big occasions?” he added in a jibe at Johnson, who wrote a biography of Britain’s World War Two leader.

With Johnson so far ahead in the first round of voting, the media have speculated that some rivals might withdraw to allow a more focused challenge to the man who led the official Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum.

Health Minister Matt Hancock quit the contest on Friday, leaving Johnson with five rivals.

A second round of voting among lawmakers takes place on Tuesday as the candidates are whittled down to a final two before 160,000 Conservative grassroots members choose the next leader and prime minister by the end of July.

All May’s potential successors have said they could find the solution to the Brexit crisis which eluded her. Parliament has indicated it will try to stop a no-deal Brexit which investors warn would hurt financial markets and shock the world economy.

 

 

   
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