Boris Johnson has said the UK will break out of the European Union’s “manacles” like the Incredible Hulk, amid reports that he is preparing to prorogue parliament a second time in order to get around legislation forcing him to delay Brexit.
The Prime Minister repeated his commitment to leave the EU on 31 October - but he said he was “very confident” it would be with a Brexit deal, as one of his Cabinet ministers stepped back from the threat of a no-deal departure.
Referring to the comic book hero in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: "[Bruce] Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them...
"Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be - and that is the case for this country. We will come out on October 31 and we will get it done."
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay backed up the Prime Minister's tough rhetoric, telling Sky’s Ridge on Sunday programme: "The Hulk was a winner and was extremely popular and I'd rather be backing a character and a leader who is The Hulk rather than one who is on the chicken run as Jeremy Corbyn is."
However, the government appeared to be softening its stance at the same time. The PM struck a confident tone on reaching a Brexit deal, saying he thinks "we will get there" and that a "huge amount of progress is being made".
Ahead of talks with the EU Commission President in Luxembourg on Monday said: "I will be talking to Jean-Claude [Juncker] about how we're going to do it. I'm very confident.”
On Sunday, Home Secretary Priti Patel also said the UK has to leave the EU with a deal at the end of next month. She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: "We have to leave and we have to leave with a deal on 31 October, and there's no point right now trying to prejudge the discussions that are taking place."
Meanwhile, it was reported that Mr Johnson is considering a ‘secret’ plan to order a second suspension of parliament when MPs return to the Commons on 14 October, in a bid to avoid having to delay Brexit and escape legislation blocking a no-deal.
The plan, allegedly discussed by the Prime Minister’s top adviser Dominic Cummings at a meeting of Downing Street aides on Friday, could see parliament closed until 6 November, after the UK’s Brexit deadline.
It comes as the legal campaigner behind court cases seeking to strike down the prorogation of parliament and force a Brexit delay, Jolyon Maugham QC, warned there was a “flaw” in legislation passed by MPs to block a no-deal scenario.
In a blog post, Mr Maugham warned that while the terms of the legislation would be satisfied if a Withdrawal Agreement was put before parliament and passed, a no-deal Brexit would still be possible unless a second bill implementing that agreement was also voted through.
Mr Maugham urged MPs not to approve any Withdrawal Agreement before the 19 October trigger date for a delay to Brexit, to ensure that the loophole is closed.