Column: Brexit Pressure Mounting On Johnson

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: As the October 31 deadline draws closer pressure is mounting on Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to give up his “ do or die” stand on Brexit by the month end. A section of leaders within his own party appear convinced, like most European Union bigwigs, that more time may be needed to work out a deal which is in everyone’s interest.

Official talks have restarted in Brussels this morning on technical details of a potential deal which remains shrouded in secrecy. But both the supporters and opponents of Johnson would be eager to know the details which, once out, is bound to be put under the lens.

Media reports here suggest that Johnson is under pressure from all sides to make concessions if he is keen on meeting his deadline. Leaders of Ireland, too, have indicated that October 31 deadline may be missed.

According to a detailed report in a prominent local newspaper  the cross-party group of rebel MPs that passed the Benn Act to prevent a no-deal Brexit has indicated that they are ready to force a delay beyond October 31 to allow scrutiny of the deal. Writing in the Evening Standard, former justice secretary David Gauke said Parliament would not simply “nod through a Brexit that comes at an unnecessarily high economic price”.

On the other hand negotiators in Brussels are believed to be studying a proposed customs arrangement that would see Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK with the UK authorities collecting EU tariffs on goods entering the province.

Brexit is the current obsession of the United Kingdom. Stakes are high for both Johnson and his Conservative Party and his Labour opponents. Much water has flown down the Thames since the first referendum on the issue in 2016.  New concerns and realities appear to have altered the nation’s mood drastically with lots of misgivings about Johnson’s much publicised vow to steer to the country out of the EU with or without a deal.

The altered reality is reflected in the division within the Conservative Party where a section of leaders is apprehensive about the consequences of Brexit being clinched without a good deal. It could have serious repercussions for the economy of the country which it would find hard to cope with.

Within the Labour, too, there are dissenting voices against the non-committal  stand of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn who seems to be following a wait and watch policy. Seen as a fence-sitter, the man aspiring to be the next Prime Minister of the country thinks that he can quarantine the issue of Brexit. His strategy seems to be offering a second referendum and then fight a general election.

But his equivocation is beginning to bother his own colleagues many of whom would like him to give up his agnostic approach to the issue which has riveted the nation’s attention like few things ever before. So stakes are high for all parties and their leaders including the Prime Minister with chances of an early election not being ruled out. People of this country are watching their leaders closely.

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