Boris Johnson plans general election for October 14th if MPs seize control of Brexit today: Brexit News for Tuesday 3 September

Boris Johnson plans general election for October 14th if MPs seize control of Brexit today: Brexit News for Tuesday 3 September
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Boris Johnson plans general election for October 14th if MPs seize control of Brexit today…

Boris Johnson will hold a snap general election on Monday, Oct 14, if Parliament votes to seize control of Brexit from him on Tuesday. The Prime Minister warned Remainers that in “no circumstances” will he agree to another delay, meaning they will have to force him from Downing Street if they want to postpone Brexit beyond Oct 31. In a televised address outside No 10, Mr Johnson made it clear to the 20-plus Tory rebels plotting with Labour to thwart his plans that they would leave him with no choice but to call an election “which I don’t want and you don’t want” if they defeated the Government on Tuesday night. With Parliament braced for one of its most tumultuous weeks, Mr Johnson is set to gamble his entire premiership on an election that would be fought as a rerun of the 2016 EU referendum. If he lost, he would be the shortest-serving Prime Minister in history. – Telegraph (£)

  • Boris Johnson wants snap election on October 14 before Halloween Brexit date – and tells rebels ‘I won’t delay exit again’ – The Sun

…as Hilary Benn’s Bill proposes another three-month Brexit delay if MPs haven’t endorsed No Deal or a deal…

Rebel Tory MPs will try to force Boris Johnson to delay Brexit for at least another three months into 2020 if he fails to win a new deal. The alliance of Remainer Tories and opposition MPs yesterday published a bill that makes a No Deal exit on October 31 illegal. If it’s passed, it compels the PM to ask the EU for and also accept an extension of Article 50 talks until January 31. The law also allows the EU to set an even longer extension with the Commons’ approval. In an extra lock, only a successful vote in the Commons will allow the UK to leave on time without a new agreement in place. The European Union (Withdrawal) (no 6) Bill will be voted on by MPs tomorrow. First, the alliance of MPs will try to win a vote tonight to seize control of Parliament’s timetable. Experts last night said Mr Johnson would be trapped by the bill if it passes. – The Sun

  • The rebel bill to extend Article 50: what does it mean? – Telegraph (£)
  • Rebel Bill published to stop no-deal exit if Boris Johnson fails to strike agreement by 19 October – Independent

> Jonathan Isaby on BrexitCentral today: Hilary Benn publishes his Bill to delay Brexit again as Government threatens an election if MPs back it 

…but Boris Johnson rules out any Brexit delay in dramatic statement

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he won’t consider delaying Brexit. In a dramatic statement outside Downing Street this evening, he said there are “no circumstances” in which he would consider asking Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. In a clear statement to Conservative MPs who are considering voting against the Government over a no-deal Brexit, he said: “I don’t want an election. You don’t want an election.” Mr Johnson has said he hopes to agree a deal with the EU – but the UK must leave on October 31 whether there is a withdrawal deal or not. However, MPs including two recent Conservative cabinet ministers hope to introduce laws that would force him to write to the EU to ask for yet another delay – until January 31, 2020 – if he fails to obtain a deal and cannot persuade MPs to vote for a motion allowing the Government to go ahead with a no-deal Brexit. – Daily Post

> WATCH: Boris Johnson’s statement issuing warning to Tory MPs who vote against the government

Rebel Tories are defiant in the face of deselection and election threats…

Rebel Conservatives were defiant on Monday night about Boris Johnson’s threats of deselection and an early general election, with at least 17 Conservative MPs saying privately or publicly that they have not been deterred from voting to stop a no-deal Brexit. The work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, voiced unease at the persuasion tactics being used to deter votes on a proposed bill to stop no deal. She said removing the whip was a “drastic step” and she had made clear to Johnson that she did not agree with threats. She added that sanctions should also apply to Brexiter MPs if they voted against a future deal. “We should not be a party that is trying to remove from our party two former chancellors, a number of ex-cabinet ministers … the way to hold our party together and to get a deal is to bring them onside and explain to them what we’re trying to do and why,” she said. – Guardian

  • Full list of rebel Tory MPs planning to vote against Boris Johnson on Brexit – Buzzfeed News

…while Conservative donors plan to tip millions into 106 target seats to win a snap election for Boris Johnson

Tory donors have said they are in the “fight of their lives” after drawing up a list of over 100 marginal seats to fund with millions of pounds to help Boris Johnson win a snap general election. Officials working for the Midlands Industrial Council have drawn up the list of key seats with staff working for Darren Mott, the party’s director of campaigning in the past seven days. Donors who abandoned the party under Theresa May are also reported to be coming back to the party due to Boris Johnson’s leadership of the party. Donors represented by the Midlands Industrial Council gave around £5million to the party – both centrally and to individual seats – in the months leading up to the 2017 general election. – Telegraph (£)

Tony Blair warns Jeremy Corbyn the Tories would win a snap election and not to fall into the ‘elephant trap’…

Tony Blair sensationally admitted today that Boris Johnson would probably win a snap election – as a furious fresh row opened up within Labour over a new vote. The former Labour PM warned that no leader of the Opposition has ever won with Jeremy Corbyn’s abysmal poll ratings. And he admitted that even he has major reservations about voting for Labour now because of their hard-left policies and the anti-Semitism scandal. Speaking in central London today, Mr Blair said: “The Tories can obviously see that it is possible for them to win a general election by pitting it as Johnson versus Corbyn.” He predicted Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will “collapse” in the face of Boris’ No Deal threat allowing the Tories to hoover up their votes. – The Sun

…but Corbyn says he ‘will be delighted’ to fight a general election…

Jeremy Corbyn has responded to speculation that Boris Johnson is planning a general election by stating that he “will be delighted” when it comes, telling supporters: “We will win and defeat this lot.” The Labour leader made the remarks after giving a wide-ranging speech in Salford on Monday that was largely seen as a pitch to prospective voters in a snap election and focused on the party’s manifesto promises and support for the north of England. However, his attempts to put Labour on a general election footing were somewhat undermined by contradictory statements made by senior party figures suggesting that legislation to stop no deal should take precedence over a national poll. – Guardian

  • Jeremy Corbyn insists Labour is ready for a general election – The Times (£)

> WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit speech in Salford

…although he risks a further rift within Labour over the matter

Jeremy Corbyn triggered a major rift within Labour over his support for a general election, amid concern that Boris Johnson will use prerogative powers to delay a poll until after Brexit. Remainer MPs warned the Labour leader that backing a snap poll while no-deal remained on the table would plunge the “country deeper into division” and see him “punished at the ballot box.” In a sign of a looming rebellion, dozens of Labour MPs indicated they would vote against the party whip to block an election, just hours after Mr Corbyn signalled he would back one under all circumstances. The row came after Downing Street insiders confirmed that the Prime Minister will attempt to force a general election on Wednesday if MPs manage to seize control and begin legislating to delay Brexit. – Telegraph (£)

  • Labour piles pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to block Boris Johnson from holding a snap election – The Sun

No-deal Brexit looms as leak suggests Dominic Cummings considers the EU negotiations a ‘sham’

It was just five days after Boris Johnson had entered Downing Street when the six-member Brexit “war cabinet” met for the first time around the Cabinet table to set out a strategy for abolishing the Irish backstop. Known as the Exit Strategy or “XS” committee, it comprised the Prime Minister and five key Cabinet ministers involved in delivering Brexit “do or die”. According to highly-placed sources, the meeting on July 29 discussed the diplomatic and tactical approach to getting rid of the backstop, something Mr Johnson said was the minimum requirement for a Brexit deal in his first statement to the Commons on July 25. – Telegraph (£)

Gavin Williamson says it would be ‘perfectly normal’ to ignore a law blocking No Deal

A second cabinet minister has suggested the government could ignore laws to block a no-deal Brexit. Gavin Williamson said it would be “perfectly normal” not to enact such legislation straight away, adding: “We would be looking at what the impact of the legislation would be on the government’s negotiating position.” The education secretary’s comments in an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain follow Michael Gove’s refusal to guarantee that Downing Street would be bound by any bill passed by parliament this week. MPs are expected to initiate efforts tomorrow to pass a bill which would prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. – The Times (£)

David Davis: Futile games in the Commons only damage the UK’s hand in Brexit negotiations

Put aside the hyperbole and exaggeration about “the death of democracy” and “constitutional outrage” that have accompanied the Prime Minister’s plans to prorogue Parliament. It is actually a sensible strategy that can potentially reset the tortured Brexit negotiations. In politics, momentum is key but it’s also crucial to have a sense of purpose. Had the Government pursued such a strategy from June 2017, who knows what position we would be in now? It’s absolutely right that Boris Johnson’s administration begins the detailed forensic work needed to develop an attractive policy portfolio on important domestic issues like schools funding, the NHS, policing and infrastructure investment. All of which need to be previewed in a Queen’s Speech. Similarly, after three years of frustrating impasse, a strong and radical Budget will be imperative to reassure voters and businesses that whatever the outcome of Brexit, the Government has a grip and is competent and clear-sighted. – David Davis MP for the Telegraph (£)

Tony Abbott: Remainers fear that this country won’t be able to cope on its own. But if Brexit fails, Britain fails

The Brexit debate has been one of the least civil and most seismic disagreements in history. Nevertheless, it is in the best interests of the wider world that Britain be strong; and Britain can’t reach its full strength without also being free to set its own course and chart its own future. Given Europe’s bloodstained history, there are obvious grounds for a close alliance between one-time foes. But this idea of 28 countries, large and small, relatively rich and poor, all with different languages, histories, ancient attachments and antagonisms, all needing to act in unison and heed the same faceless Brussels bureaucrats – well, if this nostrum were proposed in an Australian pub, the response would be to “tell ’em they’re dreaming”, and that would be the polite version. – Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the Telegraph (£)

Stephen Booth: The No Deal paradox. If it stays on the table, there may yet be a deal. If it’s taken off, that’s unlikely.

Parliament returns today for what is set to be a momentous week for British, and European, politics. We may be about to witness the events that could, finally, set us on course for a resolution to the first phase of the Brexit process, whatever that may be. Politicians and diplomats across the EU27 will be following the goings on in Parliament closely and assessing whether the Prime Minister’s strategy – to leave on 31st October “do or die”, with or without a deal – remains intact. Boris Johnson stated last night that he does not want a general election. However, if Parliament succeeds in passing legislation obliging him to ask for an Article 50 extension, which he categorically refused to do, then there may be no other option. Over the past fortnight, Johnson has successfully worn down the EU’s seemingly total opposition to any further negotiations over the Withdrawal Agreement. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron both signalled their willingness to engage with British proposals for alternatives to the backstop. – Stephen Booth for ConservativeHome

Michael Deacon: A Brexit election looms… but Jeremy Corbyn sounds as hopelessly muddled as ever

Believe it or not, Jeremy Corbyn has now been Leader of the Opposition for four years. Even after all this time, though, he’s still a shambles. I’m not talking about his appearance: in this respect at least, he’s smartened up, and today looks less than ever like a compost heap shovelled into a suit. No – when I say he’s a shambles, I’m talking about his speeches. For example, the one he gave today, in Salford. What was it about? Frankly, you name it. Like so many of Mr Corbyn’s speeches, it seemed to be about more or less every topic under the sun. Almost dreamily directionless, the speech drifted hither and thither like a crisp packet across a car park. – Michael Deacon for the Telegraph (£)

Dominic Walsh: Extending Article 50 does not automatically stop No Deal

The proposed Bill does not guarantee an extension. Parliamentary action cannot guarantee an extension, even if the proposed Bill passes both the Commons and the Lords and receive royal assent before the prorogation of Parliament begins next week. Article 50 can only be extended if the UK Government asks for it and the EU27 unanimously agree. Neither of these can be guaranteed. Although the UK Government could not simply ignore the law if a Bill was passed, they may seek to exploit any loopholes – although the MPs who drafted the Bill have left little room to manoeuvre (for example, by mandating the form of the letter by which the Prime Minister must seek an extension, and by giving Parliament a vote on an extension of a different length to three months). – Dominic Walsh for Open Europe

David Gauke: I’ll vote against the party whip to put the national interest first

Today I will vote against my party’s whip for the first time in over 14 years as a member of parliament. If the media reports are correct, it might also be the last time on the basis that I might not have a party whip to follow. I won’t be the first Conservative MP to vote against a three-line whip on European matters, although in the past such behaviour didn’t usually lead to the whip being withdrawn. Indeed, if that had been the practice there wouldn’t be many Conservative MPs left. After all, eight of the current cabinet have done so at least twice this year. The stakes are high. I have been a member of the Conservative Party for 29 years, I represent a constituency I love and have a good relationship with the vast majority of my constituency party. Only a couple of months ago, an attempted deselection led by a newly joined member was comfortably seen off. – David Gauke MP for The Times (£)

Norman Tebbit: Boris Johnson and his Cabinet must hold their nerve and deliver Brexit by Hallowe’en

The death of the advertising executive and publicist Lord Bell last month brought to my mind the difficulties which he caused me as Chairman of the Conservative Party, tasked with guiding Margaret Thatcher’s third consecutive general election victory in 1989.  Though not initially aware of the extent to which Bell’s personality was affected by his addiction to cocaine, I did realise that our concepts of a general election were quite different. For Tim it was a wonderful bonanza of spending on advertising and great public events. For me, it was a matter of winning a clear majority for a Prime Minister whose image was beginning to fade from that of the victor of the Falklands to that of T.B.W (“that bloody woman”). – Lord Tebbit for the Telegraph (£)

Dominic Lawson: Johnson the proroguer is serving democracy

More than three years after the British people decided to leave the European Union, those claiming that democracy is being treated with contempt are in a state of hysteria. But the hysteria does not emanate from any of the 17.4m who voted “leave”, and who have been waiting with ever-increasing exasperation for their ballot to be honoured. No, it comes from the most unreconciled of those on the other side of the most significant popular vote in British history: they are shocked and outraged that parliament might (finally) be thwarted in its refusal to approve any form of Brexit. – Dominic Lawson for The Times (£)

William Hague: Forget prorogation, the only thing to do in this complicated constitutional situation is call a general election

A year ago I warned in these pages that Britain was heading for a major political and constitutional crisis. Sadly that crisis is now arriving. Its root cause is not the actions of any one individual or party, but the historically unprecedented inability of a parliament to agree on, let alone implement, any course of action at all. To illustrate the severity of this, consider what would happen if any particular outcome prevails in the coming days or weeks. If Boris Johnson pulled off the unlikely but not impossible feat of a last minute deal with some major change to the Irish backstop, could we all be confident that deal would then pass the House of Commons? No. – Lord Hague for the Telegraph (£)

Peter Lilley: Who is sovereign – people or Parliament?

It is easy to dismiss the outrage at the prorogation of Parliament until 14 October as at best exaggerated and at worst synthetic. Exaggerated, since protestors, having prepared for a prorogation until after Brexit was completed, reacted with pre-planned outrage, even though they will have the opportunity to move a vote of no confidence and respond to any agreement or absence of agreement emerging from the European Council on 17/18 October. Synthetic, because Parliament never sits for the four weeks of conference season — and prorogation, which is routine ahead of a Queen’s Speech, merely extends it by a week. – Lord Lilley for The Article

The Sun: If the rebels force an election, all Brexiteers must get behind Boris Johnson — or we’ll be handing over power to Labour

Boris Johnson will not be the puppet of Parliament’s anti-democratic Remainers. If they defeat him today and tomorrow, he will have no choice but to reluctantly ­trigger a snap election. It will be a huge gamble, forced on him by Tory rebels who have lost the plot. We have always assumed the Tories could not win a national poll before Brexit has been delivered. That was certainly true under Theresa May. But circumstances have radically changed. Voters now see with crystal clarity Boris’s absolute determination to uphold our democracy and deliver on the referendum result, with No Deal if need be. They see too, with visceral and increasing disgust, what he is up against. The new Prime Minister is being sabotaged by Corbyn’s Remain-backing Labour and two dozen irreconcilable Tories who ultimately chose not to honour their manifesto promises on Brexit. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • An early General Election will confirm the total realignment of British politics – Dr Stephen Davies for the Telegraph (£)
  • If Remainer MPs block Brexit then useful work will no longer be done at Westminster – Quentin Letts for The Sun
  • The Tories need a Brexit party election deal right about now – Iain Martin for Reaction
  • EU could declare no-deal Brexit a major natural disaster – Guardian
  • Almost half of Tory members oppose the Withdrawal Agreement – even without the backstop – ConservativeHome