British PM calls on lawmakers to back Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons in London, Britain, Oct. 19, 2019. / Xinhua

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday carried out his persuasion campaign inside the parliament to call upon lawmakers to support his Brexit deal with the European Union (EU), voicing his hope that a historic sitting of the House of Commons will be "the moment" to "finally resolve Brexit."

The statement came as the prime minister was addressing the parliament in its first Saturday sitting in 37 years.

After reaching the deal on Thursday in Brussels, Johnson has been working hard to persuade members of parliament to back his deal in the "Super Saturday" showdown that could come down to the tightest of margins.

Brussels and London clinched the last-minute deal by agreeing to a customs border in the Irish Sea.

However, reports surfaced on Saturday morning that the Downing Street will suspend the vote on the deal if the Letwin amendment, which would force the prime minister to apply for an extension regardless of the result, get passed.

If the Letwin amendment was approved by lawmakers, it would open the door to much lengthier parliament scrutiny and a likely Brexit delay.

Lawmakers began sitting at around 9:30 a.m. BST, to consider the Letwin amendment and a cross-party amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit and seeking a second referendum.

Johnson, who vowed to take his country out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, told the parliament: "That is the prospect that this deal offers our country and I commend it to this House."

He said that any further delay to Brexit would be "pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust."

There is "very little appetite" among leaders of other 27 EU members for any further delay, even of "one single day," the prime minister said, urging members of parliament to "get Brexit done."

Even if he is compelled under the Benn Act to write a letter requesting an extension, he will never believe that delay is a good idea, the prime minister said, adding that it's time to get this thing done "to end this debilitating feud."

"Let's go for a deal which can heal this country," he added. "A deal that allows us to express our confidence in our own democratic institutions, to determine our own laws, to believe in ourselves once again."

In response, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said the deal is "worse than the old one," referring the previous deal agreed on between Brussels and London when Theresa May was the prime minister.

"This deal risks people's jobs, rights at work, our environment and our NHS (national health service)," he said. "We must be honest about what this deal means for people's jobs."

"It leaves us without a customs union which will damage industries all across this country," he said. "Thousands of British jobs depend on a strong manufacturing sector, a vote for this deal would be a vote to cut manufacturing jobs all across this country."

As the debate is going on in the parliament, hundreds of thousands of protesters are expected in Westminster to demand a second Brexit referendum.

Xinhua

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