‘Delay means defeat’ – Johnson commits to October Brexit deadline

LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson, favourite to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, will commit on Wednesday to taking Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31, warning the governing Conservatives “delay means defeat” at a campaign launch.

Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson leaves his home in London, Britain June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

In a crowded race to replace May, Brexit has become the touchstone policy for the contenders, with Johnson, who led the campaign to leave the EU almost three years ago, taking a tough stance to exit at the end of October, with or without a deal.

The former foreign secretary and ex-London mayor has won over many in his party by arguing only he can rescue the Conservative Party, which has been punished in recent elections over the governments inability to deliver Brexit on time.

And for many, the contest for prime minister is his to lose – he has the most declared Conservative supporters in parliament and is widely popular among the partys members, the people who will ultimately choose Mays successor.

As in the 2016 referendum on EU membership, Johnsons message is clear – any more Brexit delays and the Conservative Party risks opening the door to a government led by opposition Labour leader and veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn.

“After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31,” he will say, according to extracts from his speech.

“We simply will not get a result if we give the slightest hint that we want to go on kicking the can down the road with yet more delay. Delay means defeat. Delay means Corbyn. Kick the can and we kick the bucket.”

Almost three years since voting to leave the EU, Britain is no clearer on how, when or even whether Brexit will happen. Parliament has rejected the divorce deal negotiated with the EU three times and there is little agreement among lawmakers on Brexit.

Johnson hopes to win over Brexit supporters by promising to leave on Oct. 31 deal or no deal – a pitch that might win him support in his leadership bid, but one which also worries pro-EU lawmakers who have launched an attempt to stop any future government from leaving without a deal.

He has been criticised for hiding “in a bunker” by some of his opponents, but the strategy to reduceRead More

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