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Could the next PM shut parliament to pass Brexit?

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on July 10, 2019 - Duration: 02:15s

Could the next PM shut parliament to pass Brexit?

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, rivals for Britain's top job, clash over Johnson's refusal to rule out suspending parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.

Michelle Hennessy reports.

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Could the next PM shut parliament to pass Brexit?

Boris Johnson is refusing to rule out shutting Britain's parliament, in order push through a no deal Brexit.

This was the exchange at a TV debate between Johnson and his rival for the UK's top job, Jeremy Hunt: (SOUNDBITE) (English) CURRENT BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY AND PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE, JEREMY HUNT, SAYING: "Well I think when that's happened in the past, when Parliament's been shut down against its will we actually had a civil war […] So my answer to that is no.

How about you Boris?" (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY AND PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "Well I'm not going to take anything off the table, anymore than I'm going to take no deal off the table, [HUNT: So no answer then?"] Johnson is the clear favorite to take the reins from Theresa May on July 23rd.

His stance on Brexit has been clear: the UK will be out of the EU by the Halloween deadline, do or die; come what may.

That's created a question mark over whether Johnson would resort to untested measures by trying to suspend parliament if he wins power.

It's something that's known as "proroguing" the legislature.

Since the majority of lawmakers oppose crashing out of the EU, suspending parliament could in theory allow a no-deal Brexit through.

One expert told Reuters that could risk legal action, and some lawmakers have blasted the idea as undemocratic.

Johnson has publicly stated he plans to renegotiate a Brexit deal, one that has better chances than Theresa May's doomed plan.

But lawmakers aren't taking chances.

On Tuesday (July 9), they narrowly approved a measure that could make it harder to suspend parliament later in the year, once the new PM is crowned.

With just weeks to go before Conservative party members choose their winner, the Tuesday debate often bordered on hostile.

Even when the politicians were asked what they most admired in their opponent, neither offered much praise: (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY AND PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "Erm, I greatly admire his ability to change his mind on, and campaign for a Brexit now." (SOUNDBITE) (English) CURRENT BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY AND PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE, JEREMY HUNT, SAYING: "He has this great ability - you ask him a question, he puts a smile on your face and you forget what the question was.

It's a brilliant quality for a politician, maybe not a prime minister though."

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