Is this Boris Johnson’s endgame? PM says he will refuse to delay Brexit even if he’s LEGALLY required – forcing him to resign or MPs to kick him out – as Lords pass anti-No Deal law and Jeremy Corbyn prepares to block election on Monday
- Boris Johnson says he will not ask EU to postpone Brexit past October 31 even if anti-No Deal bill becomes law
- The anti-No Deal legislation is expected to be given Royal Assent on Monday after House of Lords approves it
- Opposition leaders today agreed to vote against or abstain when PM triggers election vote on Monday
- They want a Brexit delay agreed before voting for a snap poll, meaning an election in November is probable
- Without their support Mr Johnson is unlikely to secure the two thirds support he needs for October 15 poll
- Mr Johnson today declined to rule out the possibility of resigning if he fails to deliver Brexit by Halloween
- New survey shows the major danger for Mr Johnson if an early general election happens after October 31
- Conservative Party is polling at 37% for pre-October 31 election but just 28% for post-October 31 election
- Majority of lost Tory support in the second scenario goes to the Brexit Party, sparking renewed calls for pact
- Survey shows how important it is for the Prime Minister to force an early election before Brexit deadline
- Came amid growing anger over Mr Johnson’s use of police officers as the backdrop for ‘political stunt’ speech
- Mr Johnson in Scotland today ahead of a trip to see the Queen at Balmoral Castle along with Carrie Symonds
- Anti-Brexit campaigners this morning saw bid to stop PM proroguing Parliament rejected by High Court
A defiant Boris Johnson today suggested he will not ask the EU to delay Brexit even if he is legally required to do so as opposition leaders agreed to work together to block the PM’s bid to trigger an early general election.
A rebel anti-No Deal law is expected to make its way onto the UK statute book on Monday after the House of Lords backed it this afternoon.
It will force the premier to seek a Brexit extension if Brussels and Britain have not struck an agreement in the run up to October 31.
Yesterday Mr Johnson said he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than delay the UK’s departure from the bloc.
Today he was asked if he would not seek an extension even if it is set out in law that he must and he replied: ‘I will not. I don’t want a delay.’
His answer is likely to be interpreted in one of two ways: He will either defy the law or resign. The former would appear almost unthinkable for a prime minister and would spark a political, legal and constitutional firestorm.
It came as Jeremy Corbyn and the other leaders of the ‘Rebel Alliance’ agreed to work together to stop Mr Johnson forcing an early general election on Monday.
Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Plaid Cymru will either vote against the government or abstain when Mr Johnson holds a crunch vote at the start of next week in a bid to go to the country on October 15.
The Prime Minister will need the support of two thirds of the House of Commons to succeed but with the opposition now all on the same page his attempt at triggering a snap poll appears doomed to failure.
That could leave the PM stuck in Number 10 but unable to deliver a No Deal Brexit on October 31 and he could be forced to resign rather than break his ‘do or die’ pledge.
Mr Johnson today declined to rule out resigning if he fails to deliver Brexit by the current deadline as he embarked on a visit to Scotland.
He said: ‘That is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate. I want us to get this thing done.’
Downing Street is believed to be considering a fall-back option if the bid on Monday fails which would see it introduce a new, very short piece of legislation calling for an election and setting a date.
Such a course of action would enable the government to skirt the two thirds majority rule set out in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act with a simple majority enough to get it through.
But it would be a risky move because the draft law would be amendable so rebel MPs could hijack it and set their own poll date for after October 31.
Mr Johnson’s comments came as he suffered another photo call calamity when a bull he was leading on a rope overpowered him at a farm in Aberdeenshire and charged into a plain clothes police officer.
Mr Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds will stay with the Queen at Balmoral Castle tonight before he tries again at the start of next week to force an election before the Brexit deadline.
Mr Johnson then headed to Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen as he tried to forget about his political week from hell but suffered a fresh calamity as the bull he was leading on a rope bumped into a plain clothes police officer
Boris Johnson arrived in Scotland this morning ahead of a trip to Balmoral to see the Queen. He is pictured being shown around Peterhead Fish Market
Boris is challenged on fish processing at Peterhead fish market.
Mr Johnson will be joined at Balmoral by his girlfriend Carrie Symonds who was pictured arriving at Aberdeen Airport this afternoon
Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds were spotted leaving an Aberdeen hotel this afternoon as they headed to Balmoral for their audience with the Queen
Mr Johnson’s Brexit difficulties were today illustrated in a new poll by ICM which puts the Tories at 37 per cent and Labour trailing on 30 per cent – a large enough lead to potentially give the Conservatives a majority – when people were asked how they would vote at a snap election before Halloween.
But Tory support dipped to 28 per cent – tied with Labour – when people were asked how they would vote in an election held after the current departure date.
Much of the lost Tory support in the second scenario appears to jump to the Brexit Party and the new numbers are likely to intensify calls for Mr Johnson to strike an electoral pact with Nigel Farage.
Mr Farage has said he will only consider an alliance with the PM if he agrees to pursue a ‘clean break’ No Deal Brexit from the EU on October 31.
A rebel anti-No Deal law is expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday after peers agreed to its passage today.
It will require the PM to seek a Brexit delay beyond October 31 if Britain and Brussels have not struck an agreement in the run up to Halloween.
Opposition parties plan to withhold their support for a snap poll until a delay has actually been agreed with the EU, likely at a European Council meeting on October 17, potentially putting the UK on course for a nationwide vote in November.
Monday: Boris tries to call an election
Block No Deal bill becomes law
Tuesday: Parliament suspended
October 15: Parliament returns
October 19: Law compels PM to ask for a Brexit delay if no deal is done
October 31: Boris’s Brexit deadline
November: Labour’s favoured month for an election
Monday’s vote will be the government’s second attempt at forcing an early election after the PM’s first try failed this week.
But with Labour, the SNP and other opposition parties now in agreement that they will not support a poll before the end of October at the earliest, Mr Johnson is likely to be scuppered.
The set back to Mr Johnson’s hopes of forcing an early election came as he signalled there could be a path back to the Conservative Party for the 21 rebels he stripped of the whip this week after they voted to block No Deal.
Speaking in Scotland, he told reporters: ‘Yes of course I’m going to reach out to those colleagues and have been reaching out to them to try and find ways of building bridges but I’ve got to be clear we must get Brexit done and that’s my message to my colleagues.’
Separately, the High Court today rejected a legal challenge which sought to overturn Mr Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament until October 14. Parliament is due to be prorogued at some point next week.
However the case brought by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller and backed by Sir John Major and Labour could still be taken to the Supreme Court for an appeal.
Mr Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit ‘do or die’ and with or without a deal on October 31 and has repeatedly said he will not in any circumstances ask Brussels for an extension.
Arch-Remainer Gina Miller LOSES her bid to scupper Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament
Pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller has lost her legal bid to scupper Boris Johnson’s planned suspension of Parliament.
Mrs Miller, who is backed by former PM John Major, had urged London’s High Court to rule that Mr Johnson’s advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was an ‘unlawful abuse of power’.
But three of the country’s top judges today rejected the case, meaning the suspension of Parliament, planned to start next week, can go ahead.
But if MPs block an election again and a No Deal split becomes impossible, Mr Johnson may have no other choice but to quit.
Mr Johnson will be hoping his visit with the monarch this evening will help him forget about a difficult day yesterday.
His brother Jo quit the Cabinet, he was heckled by members of the public and he prompted controversy for using a wall of police officers as the backdrop for what critics labelled a ‘political stunt’ speech.
Separately, Mr Johnson was facing growing pressure to restore the whip to 21 Remainer rebels as ex-Cabinet minister Sir Michael Fallon said there should be ‘some kind of appeal mechanism’.
The PM failed in a bid earlier this week to force an early election as Mr Corbyn and other opposition leaders failed to back the move.
Mr Johnson tabled a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which requires the support of two thirds of MPs in order for a poll to be called.
But he fell far short of the magic number of 434 MPs as Labour and other parties abstained.
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