British parliament must reconvene immediately for Brexit crisis, Labour Party says

by Reuters
Monday, 19 August 2019 07:55 GMT

(Adds context, Corbyn speech)

By William James

LONDON, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Britain's parliament needs to be recalled immediately to discuss Brexit, the opposition Labour Party's finance spokesman John McDonnell said on Monday, after leaked official documents forecast possible food, fuel, and medicine shortages.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain will leave the European Union, with or without a transition deal, on Oct. 31. His calls for the EU to renegotiate the existing exit deal have so far been rejected in Brussels.

That puts Britain on course for an unmanaged exit, which an official assessment published by the Sunday Times said would jam ports, increase the risk of public protests and severely disrupt the world's fifth-largest economy.

McDonnell, the opposition Labour Party's, second most powerful man, said that the looming crisis demanded parliament's summer break must be brought to an early end.

"There's a need now to bring MPs back together again, because we need time now to really have a proper debate and discussion about this," McDonnell, a senior ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, told BBC radio.

Parliament is currently not due to sit until Sept. 3.

Labour, which is opposed to a no deal exit, wants to bring down Johnson's government and form its own emergency coalition to delay Brexit, lead by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

McDonnell said there was a majority in parliament committed to stopping a no-deal exit, and that Corbyn would sit down with rival leaders next week to discuss the best approach to doing so.

Johnson's ministers played down the leaked no-deal assessment on Sunday, saying the document was old and did not reflect the increased funding and planning that the prime minister has undertaken since he took office last month.

They accuse Labour and others who are opposed to a no deal of undermining negotiations with the EU, saying that European leaders will wait to see if parliament can block a no deal exit before deciding whether to renegotiate the deal. (Reporting by William James Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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