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What's next in Britain's Brexit whirlwind?

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 12, 2019 - Duration: 02:36s

What's next in Britain's Brexit whirlwind?

Boris Johnson faces three broad options when parliament returns in September - a Brexit deal, no deal, and/or a general election.

Lucy Fielder and William James report.

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What's next in Britain's Brexit whirlwind?

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT WILLIAM JAMES, SAYING: "Although parliament's not sitting at the moment, and the big crunch point comes when parliament returns, Boris Johnson hasn't been shy about getting out and talking to the public.

He's been in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, he's been, you know, kissing babies and picking up chickens and wearing hi-vis vests, doing everything that you would do on an election campaign, even though he says he doesn't want an election before Brexit." An election soon is what many Britons expect - not least, it appears, their less-than-shy new prime minister.

Britain will eject from the EU in less than three months unless Johnson and Brussels rustle up a new deal.

And that prospect is shaking British politics.

Reuters' William James says Johnson needs to get going... assuming he wants to.

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT WILLIAM JAMES, SAYING: "So when parliament returns in September, Boris Johnson has a big decision to make.

He needs to decide whether he's realistic about getting a deal with the European Union to renegotiate the Brexit deal, or whether he pursues a no-deal, that's taking Britain out of the EU without any kind of transition arrangement.

That decision has to come early in September.

The government says that its Plan A is to go out and get a new deal.

The deal that Theresa May negotiated that was rejected by parliament needs to be torn up, key bits of it need to be taken out and redone, basically.

But the EU is saying "no, we don't want to talk on those terms." It's all happening early September.

Because many think he'll also face a no-confidence vote then, brought by those who oppose Brexit... Remainers in his own Conservative party could also defect.

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT WILLIAM JAMES, SAYING: "There's a majority in parliament that's demonstrated itself on several occasions that doesn't want no deal.

The first thing they can do is call a no-confidence vote and try and collapse Boris Johnson's government.

If that's successful, then an election should happen.

But you've also got a period where the people who want to stop no deal can form an alternative government.

If they can't do that, then we get to election time." Sources tell Reuters Johnson could be trying to strong-arm Brussels into a tough compromise.

His hardball tactics bear the hallmarks of his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings - The combative mastermind of the winning Leave campaign in 2016.

And a handy man to have around in an election.

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT WILLIAM JAMES, SAYING: "Boris Johnson has an ace card.

He is the one who gets to decide when an election is held.

If he loses a vote and no alternative government is formed he has to call an election, but he can call it after October 31st, so after Britain has left the European Union."

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