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Johnson Unveils More Spending as Election Looms: Brexit Update

Brian Swint

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged billions of pounds for education, social care and transportation, and warned Conservative lawmakers to get behind his Brexit plan or face losing their party affiliation.

Key Developments:

Johnson to meet rebel Conservative MPs on MondayPrime minister tells Sunday Times: “The fundamental choice is this: are you going to side with Jeremy Corbyn and those who want to cancel the referendum?”Barnier writes he’s “not optimistic” about avoiding no-deal Brexit

Gove Won’t Say If Government Would Obey Rebel Law (10 a.m.)

Michael Gove, the minister responsible for no-deal preparations, wouldn’t say if Johnson’s government would abide by any legislation passed by rebels that blocks a no-deal Brexit. He told the BBC that the opposition’s aim was just to overturn the referendum result and that the British public doesn’t want any more delays. He said he hoped that the U.K. isn’t headed for another general election.

He also insisted that the government is making progress in negotiations with the EU, and said that as well as removing controversial measures around the Irish border from the existing deal, the government wanted changes to the political declaration to state an ambition to have a free-trade deal between the U.K. and the EU.

If there isn’t a deal, there won’t be food shortages, he said, though prices may go up.

Starmer: Focus is On Law to Block No-Deal (9.45 a.m.)

Labour Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said he’s focused on getting legislation through this week that will prevent a no-deal Brexit from happening. He didn’t give many details, but said the focus was on a simple law that would force the government to seek a further Brexit delay if it didn’t have a deal. In any case, he said, Labour is ready for all scenarios.

McDonnell: Labour’s Ready to Fight an Election (9 a.m.)

Labour Party economy spokesman John McDonnell said people are angry about Johnson’s move. Speaking on Sky News, he said the country is on a slippery slope if the prime minister is allowed to close down Parliament because he might lose a vote. Parliament should have a final say on Brexit, he said.

While he doesn’t rule out a vote of no confidence, McDonnell said the immediate goal is to preserve Parliamentary sovereignty and prevent a no-deal Brexit. If that means a general election, “bring it on,” he said.

Gauke: Johnson Wrong to Suspend Parliament (8:45 a.m.)

Former cabinet minister David Gauke told Sky News that the prime minister is wrong to try to sideline members of parliament, since the government should be receiving more scrutiny than usual rather than less now. He also said it’s “not sensible” to threaten Conservative rebels with expulsion if they vote against the government.

Gauke said he and other potential rebels will meet Johnson on Monday. He said he wanted to hear the prime minister’s plans for alternative plans for the Irish border. If the U.K. isn’t ready to leave the EU on Oct. 31, then the deadline should be extended, he said.

But Gauke said he was unlikely to support a no-confidence vote, because he viewed a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn as too much of a risk.

Barnier ‘Not Optimistic’ on Avoiding No-Deal Brexit (overnight)

The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is “not optimistic” about avoiding a no-deal Brexit scenario, he wrote in an opinion piece for The Telegraph.


To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Swint in London at bswint@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at pgordon6@bloomberg.net, Robert Hutton

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