Jeremy Corbyn risks Labour split as he claims he can block No Deal Brexit AND back PM’s call for snap election
- Boris Johnson made clear he wants an election on October 14 if No Deal blocked
- PM will table a motion calling a poll if Remainer revolt on Brexit succeeds tonight
- He would need a two-thirds majority in the Commons to trigger early election
- Jeremy Corbyn voiced ‘delight’ but allies said No Deal must be ruled out first
Published: 10:03 BST, 3 September 2019 | Updated: 17:09 BST, 3 September 2019
Jeremy Corbyn risked a Labour split today as he claimed he can block No Deal and back the PM’s call for a snap election.
The PM will table a motion triggering a ballot on October 14 if the government loses a crunch showdown in the Commons tonight.
Mr Corbyn said last night he was ‘delighted’ by the prospect of giving the public the opportunity to decide – suggesting that Labour would help secure the two-thirds majority required to force an early election.
But the party’s position was in tatters today after senior figures said they would only back an election if there is a cast-iron guarantee it will happen before the Halloween Brexit deadline.
Mr Corbyn struggled to clarify the approach after meeting rebel alliance MPs earlier.
He said: ‘We are confident that the legislative route we have adopted has every chance of being successful, and we are working on ways in which we can prevent Boris Johnson manipulating an election to force a No Deal Brexit.
‘Labour wants to prevent a No Deal Brexit, and to have a General Election, so we can end austerity and invest in our communities.
‘I am confident we can have both, and we’ve been in discussions about a way to achieve this.’
Aides insisted the party would be able to support the motion expected to be tabled by the PM if the government loses.
However, sources close to shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the party would not give Mr Johnson ‘unconditional support’ and they were looking at ‘mechanisms’ that could bind him to a specific election date.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured leaving his London home today) has said he is ‘delighted’ by the prospect of an election, but insisted No Deal Brexit must be ruled out
The wavering drew ridicule from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who said that if Mr Corbyn stood in the way of an election it would be the ‘mother of all U-turns’.
Shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti said the party’s priority was to stop the UK crashing out of the EU.
‘We’ve got to get a locked-in guarantee that Britain would not crash out of the EU in an election campaign period,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Farage says PM must vow ‘clean break’ Brexit
The MEP said he was ready to put ‘country before party’ and ‘help in any way we can’ if a snap poll is triggered.
But he warned that the PM seemed ‘intent on reheating Theresa May‘s Withdrawal Agreement’ and that meant there was no chance of a pact.
The intervention came after Mr Johnson pledged to call an election for October 14 if Remainers win a crunch vote tonight aiming to block No Deal.
The PM said the move would ‘chop the legs off’ the goverment’s negotiating strategy, and warned he will never ask Brussels for an extension to the Halloween deadline.
But Tory success in a poll could rely on Mr Farage’s Brexit Party not splitting the Eurosceptic vote in key marginal seats.
‘We’ve also got to try as best as possible to ensure that it wouldn’t be possible for the sitting squatting prime minister in this period to set a general election and then change the date. The priority this morning is preventing this no-deal crash out.
‘Then of course if we get the sequencing right and we can get sufficient support across the house we live and breathe for a general election.’
Senior Government sources have confirmed Mr Johnson will table a motion to schedule a general election for October 14 if MPs back the cross-party move to seize control of Commons business.
However, under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, he would need a two-third majority in the House to force a poll.
Many MPs are concerned that if that motion is passed Mr Johnson would still have discretion over the date.
They are not willing to take his word that the election will happen on October 14, and want to push on with passing the No Deal legislation before agreeing to trigger a poll.
That law would demand the PM seeks and accepts a delay of at least three months to the October 31 deadline if there is no Brexit agreement in place by October 19.
Under the terms of the European Union (Withdrawal) (no 6) Bill, the Government must seek a delay to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU until January 31 if there is no agreement with Brussels in place by October 19 and Parliament has not approved a no-deal Brexit.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn said Labour will ‘take the fight to the Tories’ in a general election, insisting the party is ready.
Speaking at a rally in Salford on Monday night, Mr Corbyn said: ‘I am proud to lead our party, I’m proud to take the fight to the Tories and I will be delighted when the election comes. I’m ready for it, you’re ready for it, we’re ready for it, we’ll take the message out there and above all we will win for the people of this country.’
However, Labour’s shadow Northern Ireland secretary Tony Lloyd later appeared to contradict his leader, saying Labour would first push to have legislation passed blocking a no-deal Brexit.
The PM (pictured having tea with NHS staff in No10 today) has upped the ante by making clear a vote set to be forced by Remainers later will be treated as a confidence issue