June 26, 2019

Boris Johnson Predicts ‘Million-to-One’ Chance of No-Deal Brexit
(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson zigzagged back to a softer Brexit stance, saying there was a "million to one" chance he’d lead Britain into a chaotic split from Europe, as lawmakers maneuvered to make sure he couldn’t even if he wanted to.On Tuesday, the front-runner to be Britain’s next prime minister had pledged to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a deal. "Do or die, come what may," he said. A day later he was walking that back, saying he didn’t expect Britain to end up in no-deal limbo.“I don’t think that’s where we’re going to end up. I think it’s a million to one against, but it is vital that we prepare," he told a leadership contest event Wednesday.Johnson has built a broad coalition of supporters within the Conservative Party, from arch-Brexiteers to modernizers who wanted to stay in the bloc. He has taken turns to offer each side what they want to hear -- both in public and in private. The pound was unchanged.Read more: When Boris Johnson Talks Brexit, MPs Hear What They Want to HearMembers of Parliament who oppose a no-deal split because they fear the economic consequences are trying to use the tools of Parliament to prevent the next prime minister leaving without an agreement.They succeeded in forcing May to seek an extension earlier this year, but a recent maneuver failed and they now risk running out of time.Conservative MP Dominic Grieve has proposed an amendment to government spending limits that would forbid the government from spending money on some areas if there had been a no-deal Brexit that wasn’t approved by Parliament. A vote could come next Tuesday.It’s not clear if it will succeed: The move could be too drastic, and too soon, for many of the MPs who are preparing to fight a no-deal Brexit.Navigating ParliamentJohnson’s rival for the premiership, Jeremy Hunt, also wants to renegotiate May’s Brexit deal, and says he would leave the bloc without an agreement if it were the only option. But unlike Johnson, he’s prepared to extend the Oct. 31 deadline if a new accord were in reach.Johnson’s softer tone late Wednesday contrasted with comments made by members of his team earlier in the day. Two colleagues signaled a willingness to ignore Parliament if it tried to block a no-deal Brexit.“We will leave at the end of October, come what may, that is the legal default position, and Parliament does not have the means to overturn that,” Andrea Leadsom told the BBC.Earlier, Dominic Raab told BBC radio that any motion from MPs to urge Johnson to change course would have “zero legal effect.” Johnson took a more conciliatory line Wednesday, saying he was not "attracted to archaic devices” such as proroguing, or suspending, Parliament in order to ensure the U.K. leaves on time.Johnson indicated he’s banking on Parliament to approve a revised Brexit deal. He sees an outbreak of "common sense" among lawmakers and said the politics of the country have changed since March 29, the day the U.K. was meant to leave the EU, and the last time May tried to push her much hated agreement through the House of Commons.Hunt and Johnson agreed that a general election before Brexit is delivered would bring a disastrous result for the party. Hunt said the Conservatives would be “thrashed” in a general election, putting opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in power.Read more: Johnson’s Backers Eye Early U.K. Election, Despite Brexit CrisisJohnson said that “it would be absolutely crazy for any of us to think of going to the country and calling a general election before we get Brexit done.”They also agreed that the residency rights of EU citizens in the U.K. -- part of the divorce deal -- should be guaranteed. And Johnson used the event on Wednesday to set out his vision for post-Brexit immigration: He wants an Australian-style points system that would favor skilled workers, and restrict unskilled labor flows -- a key promise of the referendum campaign in 2016.To contact the reporters on this story: Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Emma Ross-Thomas at erossthomas@bloomberg.net, ;Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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