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Boris Johnson tells rebels: back me or face an early election

2 September 2019

5:59 PM

2 September 2019

5:59 PM

Boris Johnson’s message to MPs is that if they vote tomorrow for another delay, then Wednesday there will be vote on general election. MPs gone, no 14 days, no legislation on extension. Election on 14 October. Government source: ‘who does country want to sort it out on 18 Oct at EU?’

UPDATE, 6.27pm: “I hope MPs won’t [vote for Brexit delay]…There are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels for a delay…I don’t want an election”. Hmmm. He didn’t say he would force election if he loses tomorrow but those close to him tell me categorically he would.

UPDATE, 6.48pm: To confirm, a minister tells me Cabinet approved that tomorrow’s vote on backbenchers taking control of order paper will be seen as confidence vote. So Cabinet agreed that there will be vote on Wednesday to hold a general election on 14 October if Boris Johnson is defeated, just 24 hours away.

Fraser Nelson adds: This evening’s developments mean two things. That No10 has given up thinking it could try to defeat the Tory rebels using parliamentary shenanigans (ie, letting the House of Lords talk it out, etc). And, also, that No10 now accepts that the election would have to take place before the Brexit date of 31 October. Previously, No10’s position had been that it was too late for MPs to stop Brexit, that they had missed their opportunity. Now, all is up for grabs. Johnson has said that even if the rebels win, and parliament instructs him to ask Brussels to delay Brexit, he would not do it. (“There are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels for a delay.”) This implies that he’d call an election, although he did mention the date in his speech it’s rapidly circulating in Westminster. The idea: to tell Tories that, if they vote for for the Oliver Letwin/Keir Starmer plan tomorrow, they will also be voting for a general election.


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