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Corbyn Gears Up for Election as Chaotic Brexit Fears Escalate

Andrew Atkinson

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn will promise to do “everything necessary” to prevent a no-deal Brexit as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to take his threat to let Britain crash out of the EU to the heart of Europe.

The Labour Party leader in a speech on Monday will renew his pledge to hold a second Brexit referendum if a general election is called this year “with credible options for both sides, including the option to remain” in the European Union.

Corbyn will hold out the prospect of a “once-in-a-generation chance to change direction” under Labour two days before Johnson is due to visit Berlin and Paris on his first foreign trip since becoming Conservative Party leader in July.

Johnson will tell Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France that the EU must offer a new deal or face Britain leaving on Oct. 31 without one, saying the British Parliament “will not, and cannot, cancel the referendum.”

Brexit Aftershocks

The warning comes amid reports that the government is preparing for a three-month “meltdown” at British ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine. These represent the “most likely aftershocks” of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Sunday Times, which cited leaked government documents.

Johnson has accused Remain-supporting former ministers, including ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, of leaking the secret dossier known as Operation Yellowhammer, according to the Times.

Corbyn this month urged lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit to let him head a caretaker government. But the proposal failed to win the support of pro-EU Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who are queasy at the prospect of a hard-line socialist taking the top job.

Corbyn has said he will force a vote of no confidence on Johnson, who has a majority of just one in Parliament, and there are signs that the prime minister is preparing the groundwork for a general election with promises of extra billions for the National Health Service and crime-fighting.

On Monday, Johnson will visit a hospital in southwest England to announce urgent action to boost the number of children and young people receiving vaccinations following a rise in cases of measles.

In his speech, Corbyn will say the problems facing the U.K. run deeper than Brexit, according to his office.

“The Tories have lurched to the hard right under Boris Johnson, Britain’s Trump, the fake populist and phony outsider, funded by the hedge funds and bankers, committed to protecting the vested interests of the richest and the elites, while posing as anti-establishment,” according to excerpts provided by his office.

“Labour believes the decision on how to resolve the Brexit crisis must go back to the people,” he will add.

Britain is heading for a no-deal Brexit as fears are mounting for the global economy amid the escalating trade clash between the U.S. and China.

The pound this month fell to its lowest levels since the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote and the U.K. economy shrank for the first time in more than six years between April and June. Johnson is under growing pressure to recall Parliament from its summer recess to discuss the Brexit crisis.

No Renegotiation

The EU has ruled out renegotiating the thrice-rejected deal it struck with his predecessor, Theresa May. The agreement stalled in Parliament over how to keep the Irish border open, with the EU insisting on a “backstop” that would tie Britain closely to the bloc.

The standoff leaves opponents of a no-deal Brexit just weeks to find a way to stop Britain crashing out of the bloc, an event that business leaders and many economists say would trigger economic chaos.

Johnson will meet world leaders at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, starting Saturday. His talks with Merkel and Macron, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, are expected to focus on foreign policy and security as well as the global economy and trade.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Steve Geimann

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