Boris Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit by January at the “absolute latest” if the Tories win the British General Election, as Jeremy Corbyn said the British Prime Minister alone was to blame for his failure to meet his Halloween deadline.
On the day Britain was supposed finally to leave the EU, the two main party leaders clashed over who was responsible for the continuing deadlock over Brexit more than three years after the referendum vote.
Mr Johnson – who pledged the UK would be out by the end of October “do or die” – was determined to point the finger of blame at a Parliament dominated by Remain-supporting MPs.
“There are just too many people who are basically opposed to Brexit, who want to frustrate it,” he told reporters during a visit to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
“It was the mandate of the people. They voted by a pretty substantial majority to do this and Parliament has simply stood in their way.”
He said he had an “oven-ready” deal with Brussels which meant the UK would be out of the EU within a matter of weeks if the Conservatives were returned to power in the election on December 12, which was officially confirmed after the Early Parliamentary General Election Bill became law after receiving Royal Assent.
“If you vote for us and we get our programme through – which we will because it’s oven ready, it’s there to go – then we can be out at the absolute latest by January next year,” he said.
However, Mr Corbyn said Mr Johnson had to accept responsibility for his failure to honour the commitment he made during the Tory leadership campaign.
“He said he would rather be dead in a ditch than delay beyond today. But he has failed. And that failure is his alone,” he said.
The Prime Minister moved to call the election after MPs refused to fast-track his deal with Brussels through the Commons in time for it to be ratified by the end of the month.
Mr Corbyn, kicking off Labour’s election campaign with a speech in Battersea, south London, said the only way to resolve Brexit was through a second referendum.