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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the House of Commons in London

Newly appointed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reiterated his pledge to leave the European Union in October under any circumstance, raising the likelihood that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a deal.

In a brutal reshuffle this week, Johnson purged the Cabinet of rivals and rewarded loyalists and pro-Brexit politicians with new government posts.

In his first speech to parliament Thursday, Johnson said a golden age awaited Britain after Brexit and promised to leave the EU on the agreed date of Oct. 31.

“To do otherwise would cause a catastrophic loss of confidence in our political system,” he told a raucous House of Commons.

Johnson Raises Brexit Stakes as Britain Gears up for Possible Election video player.
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WATCH: Johnson Raises Brexit Stakes as Britain Gears up for Possible Election

General election

Analysts say a general election seems increasingly likely, with parliament deadlocked and Johnson likely unable to secure a majority for any agreement. MPs also have pledged to block any attempt to leave with no deal.

Johnson said the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, was unacceptable and had to be reopened, demanding the removal of the so-called Irish backstop, a mechanism that would keep Britain closely aligned to the EU if a free trade agreement does not remove the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“We will throw ourselves into these negotiations with the greatest energy and determination and in a spirit of friendship. And I hope that the EU will be equally ready. And that they will rethink their current refusal to make any changes to the withdrawal agreement. If they do not, if they do not, we will of course have to leave the UK without an agreement under Article 50,” Johnson told MPs.

FILE - Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar reacts during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 24, 2019.

No-deal Brexit condemned

That threat brought condemnation from opposition parties and from the EU itself, which has repeatedly rejected reopening talks on the Withdrawal Agreement. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described a no deal exit as a British threat.

“The only people who can cause no deal is the United Kingdom government. The position of the European Union and the position of Ireland has not changed. The backstop is an integral part of the withdrawal agreement,” Varadkar said Thursday.

Parliament rejected the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by May three times.

MPs have also threatened to block any attempt to leave the EU with no deal, fearing economic devastation. Johnson has not ruled out suspending parliament to force an exit with potentially huge constitutional implications. Political analyst Mark Garnett of Lancaster University says the parliamentary arithmetic does not favor the new prime minister.

“The positions in parliament will be even more entrenched now, and so in a way he faces a more difficult task with parliament than Mrs. May did. All he can hope for is that this message of optimism is going to be echoed back by the country, the country is going to respond to that, and that will make it very much more difficult for parliamentarians to continue in their resistance,” Garnett said.

Johnson’s only way through the political quagmire could be to go back to the people, Garnett added.

FILE - A group of young people hold up placards during a demonstration to demand a second referendum on Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Dec. 12, 2018.

“As much as anything, his rhetoric is gearing up for a general election campaign in which he is going to invite the British public to choose between optimism and defeatism,” he said. “You can almost see his attack lines being written for him already for that forthcoming election.”

The EU might agree to another extension to Brexit to allow for an election. However, polls show no one party gaining a majority and the public deeply split.

Despite the new faces in government, Britain is facing the same problems, with no clear end to its ongoing political crisis.

ZACC Chairperson Justice Loice Matanda Moyo (right) with an unidentified ZACC official in Harare.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) says it is investigating widespread corruption in government contained in the country’s Auditor General’s report released recently, a day after the arrest of Environment Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is being linked to a scandal at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA)which mysteriously lost more than $95 million.

This come at a time when a senior official in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Thokozani Khupe is calling for the arrest of an unidentified official said to have received “a cut” in another alleged shady bank deal in which the state lost millions of dollars.

According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, ZACC chairperson Justice Loice Matanda Moyo, said the commission has received the Auditor General’s report and investigations are in progress, together with hundreds of other cases, some involving top state officials.

The newspaper reported that Justice Matanda-Moyo indicated that the AG’s report creates the basis for investigations into corruption, theft, misappropriation of funds, abuse of power and or any other improper conduct committed in the public sector.

The Auditor General uncovered widespread corruption in the government and quasi-state entities involving some senior officials and workers.

In the meantime, Mupfumira is expected to appear in court to face charges of corruption and misuse of state funds.

While Mupfumira is facing these charges, social media is on fire following a tweet by Obert Gutu, vice president of the Khupe-led MDC, who claims that a top official in the government of national unity, which was formed in 2009 and ended in 2013, misused public funds.

His tweet posted on Wednesday reads, “Millions of public funds in US dollars disappeared in the now collapsed Interfin Bank Limited as a direct result of the fraudulent activities of some corrupt but loud-mouthed MDC Cabinet Ministers during the GNU era. This is NOT fiction. It's a FACT. ZACC is investigating.”

Gutu followed up the tweet the following day by posting another message on Thursday, in which he claimed that the unidentified person who was a cabinet minister got “a cut” from the Interfin deal. “Millions of public funds in US$ were fraudulently & recklessly channelled to Interfin Bank Limited by an MDC Cabinet Minister for a cut. This money was then 'lost' when Interfin collapsed. If this isn't corruption, then the word 'corruption' needs to be redefined.”

Gutu said ZACC has already been informed about the issue, the person involved and “he knows himself … Soon, the chickens will be coming home to roost.

The tweet attracted some opponents who called Gutu a sell-out allegedly embedded in the Zanu PF government. The first four to attack Gutu were Offensive Ncube, Allan Muchechetere, Grandma and Golden Muleya, who questioned the MDC-T vice president’s integrity while indicating that focus should be on the $15 billion that former president Robert Mugabe said it vanished from Marange diamond sales and other issues, including the NSSA scandal.

Ncube wrote on Twitter in response to Gutu’s message, “Corruption fighting in not scores settling…”

Grandma added, ““@GutuObert is after MDCA he once them down, fortunately he is not God. His hatred is too much. Shame

But Gutu shot back saying, “So, exposing corruption is your definition of ‘hatred’? Honestly you need salvation.

This may have angered Muleya who called Gutu a puppet of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Gutu insisted that there is evidence in the so-called Interfin shady deal. “The paper trail is there. The relevant investigating authorities have got all the necessary information and documents.”

According to some sources in the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa, senior officials in the party are being targeted by ZACC following the arrest of the minister of environment. ZACC commissioners and some of the people allegedly implicated in the shady deals were not available for comment.

Interfin was put under curatorship after it recorded a real negative capital of $5,87 089 as at March 31, 2010.

The Deposit Protection Corporation accused the directors of the bank of failing to properly supervise and monitor the lending activities of the bank, which resulted in the granting of loans to related parties and/or customers without adequate security or in the exercise of normal and reasonable prudential banking practice.

One of the directors owed the bank over $136 million.

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