Boris Johnson says he ‘doesn’t want an election’ amid intensifying Brexit battle
He urged MPs not to block ‘pointless delay’ to Brexit led by Jeremy Corbyn
Mr Johnson also insisted he will not ask the EU for another extension
Boris Johnson could try and seek a general election in mid-October if he loses a crunch vote on Tuesday as part of an attempt by MPs to block a no-deal Brexit.
The prime minister insisted he “doesn’t want an election” in a speech outside Downing Street on Monday evening, warning rebel Tory MPs not to support another “pointless delay”.
As Mr Johnson made his last-ditch attempt to unite his warring party, a Downing Street source said if MPs don’t back Mr Johnson, the Government will table a motion for an early general election.
Mr Johnson said: “Let's let our negotiators get on with their work without that sword of Damocles over their necks and without an election.
“I don't want an election, you don't want an election, let's get on with the people's agenda.”
He said rebels want to 'cut the legs off' Britain's negotiating position and called on Parliament to “get Brexit done by Oct 31st”.
The PM said a vote set to be forced by Remainers aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit will be treated as a confidence issue.
The Number 10 source said the Government’s motion on an election would be published before MPs vote on Tuesday so MPs would know the consequences of voting against the Government.
Mr Johnson could then seek a general election on October 14.
Under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA), two-thirds of MPs would need to vote in favour of an election - this means Lanbour
The European Council summit meeting of EU leaders on October 17 is seen as the last chance to achieve an agreement before the October 31 deadline.
Mr Johnson had to contend with the noise of protesters at the gates of Downing Street as he delivered his statement.
“One thing holding us back in Brussels with these talks is that MPs may find some way to vote with Jeremy Corbyn for yet another pointless delay,” Mr Johnson said.
“I hope that they won’t.
“But if they do they would chop the legs from under the UK position.”
“I say, to show our friends in Brussels that we are untied in our purpose, MPs should vote with the government against Corbyn’s pointless delay.
“I want everyone to know there are no circumstances under which I would ask Brussels for a delay.”
‘Lies, lies, lies’
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas accused the Prime Minister of dishonesty in a scathing tweet.
More bluster from Boris Johnson outside Number 10
-Lies about progress towards a deal
-Lies about giving Parliament a say
-Lies about not wanting an election
The truth is he's about to lose this week's vote in Parliament and is running scared #DefendDemocracy
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) September 2, 2019
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon also accused the PM of being disingenuous, urging anti no-deal MPs ‘not to blink’.
Plainly obvious from that statement that Johnson has no plan to get a deal. If MPs blink tomorrow, he will drive the UK off the no deal cliff on 31 October. He must not get away with it.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 2, 2019
Shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said she thought Johnson had “bottled it”.
“I think he looked pathetic,”she said.
Plot to thwart no-deal
The Prime Minister is facing a revolt in the House of Commons as opposition MPs and Tory rebels join forces in an attempt to block a no-deal Brexit.
Former chancellor Philip Hammond and ex-justice secretary David Gauke are among the senior Tories who have put their name to cross-party legislation which the group hopes to push through the Commons this week.
If MPs agree on Tuesday to allow the cross-party group to seize control of Commons business, the legislation will be considered the following day.
This Bill will stop Boris Johnson forcing through a reckless and damaging no deal Brexit on 31 October. This week could be Parliament’s last chance to stop a no deal Brexit.
I am urging all MPs to act in the national interest and support this Bill. https://t.co/gQ2GJAcFX1
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) September 2, 2019
Under the terms of the proposed law, the Government must seek a delay to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU until January 31, 2020 if there is no agreement with Brussels in place by October 19 and Parliament has not approved a no-deal Brexit.
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said it could be Parliament’s “last chance” to stop a “reckless and damaging” no-deal Brexit.
In the face of a growing rebellion from his own MPs, the Prime Minister has put them on notice that they face losing the whip and being barred from standing for the party if they back measures intended to block a no-deal Brexit.
Speaking at a Labour Party rally in Salford Jeremy Corbyn, who called a meeting of his shadow cabinet to discuss tactics, said: “What Boris Johnson was doing was essentially threatening people, threatening people with a no-deal Brexit if he doesn’t get his way in Parliament.
“I know people voted both ways in the referendum obviously, I know people have different views about these things obviously, but I simply say this – people didn’t vote to lose their jobs, didn’t vote to see our environmental standards, workers’ rights, consumer protections ripped up.
“They voted because they were angry about many things and they voted as they did to try and protect themselves as best they could.
“Our purpose is to challenge this Government on a no-deal Brexit, our purpose is to try to protect jobs and living standards, try to ensure that this country doesn’t run headlong into the arms of Donald Trump and a trade deal with the United States.”