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Brexit limbo as no-deal deadline demand becomes law

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British MPs have demanded that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government release officials’ private correspondence about plans for Brexit, as the government prepared to suspend parliament and send rebellious lawmakers home until two weeks before the country is supposed to leave the European Union.

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Lawmakers on Monday used the remaining hours before the session of parliament ended to deliver new blows to Johnson’s teetering authority.

An opposition-backed measure designed to stop Britain from crashing out of the European Union on October 31 without a divorce deal became law after receiving formal assent from Queen Elizabeth II.

Legislators also demanded the government release, by Wednesday, emails and text messages among aides and officials relating to suspending parliament and planning for Brexit amid allegations that the suspension is being used to circumvent democracy.

Under parliamentary rules, the government is obliged to release the documents.

In a statement, the government said it would “consider the implications of this vote and respond in due course”.

Lawmakers were set later in the day to reject Johnson’s demand for a snap election to break the political deadlock engulfing the government.

Britain is due to leave the EU on October 31, and Johnson says the country’s delayed exit must happen then, with or without a divorce agreement to smooth the way.

But many lawmakers fear a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating, and are determined to stop him.

An opposition-backed law compelling the government to seek a three-month delay from the EU if no deal has been agreed by October 19 became law on Monday after receiving royal assent.

Johnson has said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than postpone Brexit, but has few easy ways out of it.

His options – all of them extreme – include disobeying the law, which could land him in court or even prison, and resigning so that someone else would have to ask for a delay.

Johnson repeated his insistence on Monday that Britain must exit the EU on October 31, but acknowledged that leaving without an agreement on divorce terms “would be a failure of statecraft” for which he would be partially to blame.

-AAP

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