Sep 1, 2019 - World

U.K. official refuses to rule out ignoring laws passed to stop no-deal Brexit

U.K. Cabinet official Michael Gove refused to say on the BBC's "Andrew Marr Show" Sunday whether the British government would abide by a law passed by Parliament that seeks to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.

MARR: If this legislation goes through Parliament, does the government abide by it?
GOVE: Let's see what the legislation says.
MARR: Surely the answer has to be yes. It's the law.
GOVE: Let's see what the legislation says. You’re asking me about a pig in a poke. And I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward."

Why it matters: Parliament returns from August recess next week, where its first order of business will be presenting legislation to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a Brexit extension from the EU. Lawmakers' power to stop a no-deal has been severely hampered by Johnson's dramatic decision to suspend Parliament, which has cut down on the amount of time it will be in session before Oct. 31.

  • Gove is responsible for planning in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which experts and even leaked documents from his own government suggest could cause food and drug shortages, among other things.
  • Gove admitted that food prices could go up if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal, but denied that there would be fresh food shortages.

In a statement, the trade body for Britain's retailers called Gove's statement "categorically untrue."

"The retail industry has been crystal clear in its communications with government over the past 36 months that the availability of fresh foods will be impacted as a result of checks and delays at the border. Indeed, the government's own assessments showed that the flow of goods through the channel crossings could be reduced by 40 to 60 per cent from day one, as would the 'availability and choice' of some foods."
— British Retail Consortium

The big picture: Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across the U.K. on Saturday against Johnson's plans to suspend Parliament, with many activists and opposition politicians condemning it as a "coup" and "a constitutional outrage."

Go deeper: What Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament means for Brexit

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