British Parliament hits boiling point in vicious Brexit debate, Latest World News - The New Paper

British Parliament hits boiling point in vicious Brexit debate

This article is more than 12 months old

Boris Johnson and opponents engage in hours of vitriolic debate over Brexit

LONDON: The fury of the Brexit "inferno" is so intense, it could tip Britain towards violence unless politicians tone down their rhetoric, the husband of a lawmaker murdered a week before the 2016 European Union referendum said yesterday.

The British Parliament reached boiling point on Wednesday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his opponents engaged in hours of vitriolic debate over Brexit, with lawmakers hurling allegations of betrayal and abuse of power.

When opposition lawmaker Alison McGovern invoked the memory of murdered MP Jo Cox and warned Mr Johnson the political culture was becoming toxic, he said the best way of honouring her memory was to "get Brexit done", which drew derision from MPs.

After lawmaker Paula Sherriff told the House she had received death threats, some of which echoed Mr Johnson's own rhetoric, he replied: "I have never heard so much humbug in my life", sparking uproar.

Ms Jo Cox, a 41-year-old lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, was murdered on June 16, 2016 by Thomas Mair, who was obsessed with Nazis and extreme right-wing ideology. She was the mother of two young children.

"Feel a bit sick at Jo's name being used this way," her husband Brendan tweeted.

He said he was shocked by the vicious cycle of inflammatory language from both sides, saying both sides should ponder the impact of their language.

The rage and ferocity of the Brexit debate has shocked allies of a country that has, for over a century, touted itself as a confident - and mostly tolerant - pillar of Western economic and political stability.

Some people on both sides of the debate are now using the politics of contrived outrage to argue their point.


Mr Johnson said Parliament is betraying the will of the people over Brexit. Opponents cast him a dictator who has ridden roughshod over democracy to take Britain to the brink of ruin.

Speaker of the House John Bercow told lawmakers yesterday to stop treating each other as enemies, saying the atmosphere in the House of Commons was the worst he had known in the 22 years since he was first elected in 1997.

"The culture was toxic," Mr Bercow said in Parliament.

"May I just ask... colleagues please to lower the decibel level and to treat each other as opponents and not as enemies."

Mr Johnson taunted his rivals on his return to Parliament on Wednesday, goading them to either bring down the government or get out of the way to allow him to deliver Brexit.

Waving his arms and yelling "come on, come on", Mr Johnson implored his opponents in the raucous House of Commons session to bring a vote of no-confidence in the government and trigger an election to finally break the Brexit impasse.

Opponents roared "resign" and some cast him as a cheating dictator who should stand aside after the Supreme Court ruled that he had unlawfully suspended parliament.

Mr Johnson refused to apologise t and instead attacked opponents for apparently thwarting the will of the people over Brexit.

He received another blow yesterday when MPs voted 306 to 289 against adjourning Parliament until Oct 3 for his Conservative Party to hold its annual conference. - REUTERS