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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted he’s at least partly responsible for failing to deliver on his “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31 and apologized for not being able to get it done, as the country enters its third election-campaign period in four years.
Johnson has repeatedly blamed Parliament for stymieing his Brexit plan and said an election is the only way to break the deadlock. He’s accused Parliament of causing the delay after lawmakers refused to back his plan to rush his Brexit deal through with just three days of scrutiny.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Johnson said he also takes responsibility for failing to deliver Brexit by Halloween. He said it was “a matter of deep regret,” apologizing to Conservative Party members who voted for him to become leader based on his promises to deliver Brexit by that date come what may.
The five-week election campaign kicks off in earnest this week, and the parties are already laying down their markers. In an interview with the Sunday Express, Johnson promised to push his Brexit deal through Parliament “very fast” and avoid any further dithering if his Conservative Party wins the general election on Dec. 12.
Johnson also once again ruled out a pact with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who on Sunday said he wouldn’t make an eighth attempt to run for Parliament. Farage told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that his time would be better used helping other Brexit Party candidates.
“Do I find a seat, try and get myself into parliament, or do I serve the cause better traversing the length and breath of the United Kingdom, supporting 600 candidates?” he said. “I’ve decided the latter course is the right one.”
Four polls released over the weekend show the Brexit Party in fourth place behind the Liberal Democrats. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times showed a gain of 6 percentage points for Labour from Wednesday to Friday. It put the Brexit Party at 7%, down from 13% over the same period.
What’s Keeping Britain’s Pollsters Awake Ahead of the Election?
John McDonnell, Labour’s economy spokesman, told Marr the polls are “beginning to move in our direction” and that “we know how far we are behind in the polls.”
The party has consistently pointed to the 2017 election to show how polls can get it wrong. Two years ago, Labour trailed in the polls, but in the end the party saw an unexpected surge in support. Labour has been criticized by some over the lack of clarity in its Brexit position.
Labour’s business spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey repeatedly refused to confirm that the party would support a remain position in a second referendum. She said Labour would hold a special conference with its members to decide whether it would back any Brexit deal that leader Jeremy Corbyn negotiated with the EU, if he were to be elected.
“We have to make a judgment on whether we think the final deal is good enough for us to take forward, but ultimately that decision will be taken at the time,” she told Sky News.
She also said Labour “wouldn’t stand in their way” if the Scottish government wanted to pursue a second independence referendum after the next Scottish Parliamentary election, but she made it clear Labour would campaign against the breakup of the U.K.
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