04 Sep 2019 13:19 IST

Johnson’s "do or die" Brexit is unravelling

If the deal cannot be revised, the British PM has pledged to leave the EU on October 31 without one

Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy is already unravelling. Six weeks after he took office with a promise to leave the European Union by October 31, “do or die”, the British Prime Minister is running out of escape routes.

The former London mayor insists his preference is for Britain to leave the EU by renegotiating the deal struck by his predecessor Theresa May. That always looked a long shot. UK ministers claim European leaders are willing to rethink the agreement. But with just 58 days to go until the Brexit deadline, the government has yet to come up with any concrete proposals to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, a key EU requirement.

If the deal cannot be revised, Johnson has pledged to leave the EU on October 31 without one. That door is also closing, though. The prime minister’s opponents in parliament were on Tuesday preparing to take control of the legislature, enabling them to pass a bill that would force the government to extend the Brexit deadline by three months if it does not secure a deal. Rebel lawmakers from Johnson’s Conservative Party — including Philip Hammond, the former finance minister – are supporting the plan, threatening the government’s miniscule majority.

The prime minister on Monday indicated that if parliament blocked a “no-deal” Brexit, he would turn to his third escape route: calling an early election, probably on October 14. However, he needs the backing of two-thirds of parliament to bring forward the poll, which is not due until 2022. It would be folly for the opposition Labour Party to support that plan if a “no-deal” Brexit at the end of October remains a risk.