Wednesday 18 September 2019

Boris: 'I don't want an election, you don't want an election...' but it's on October 14

Boris Johnson is trying to face down the Tory rebels. Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool
Boris Johnson is trying to face down the Tory rebels. Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool

Gordon Rayner

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a snap general election on October 14 if the UK Parliament votes to seize control of Brexit from him tonight.

He warned Tory rebels and the opposition that in "no circumstances" would he agree to another delay, meaning they will have to force him from Downing Street if they want to postpone Brexit beyond October 31.

In a televised address outside No 10, Mr Johnson made it clear to the 20-plus Tory rebels working 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 this evening.

With Parliament braced for one of its most tumultuous weeks, Mr Johnson is gambling his premiership on an election that would be fought as a re-run of the 2016 EU referendum. If he lost, he would be the shortest-serving prime minister in history.

Mr Johnson hopes that by removing any doubt that he is prepared to go the country next month, Tory rebels, led by former chancellor Philip Hammond, will step back from the brink, having been told their careers will be over if they fail to support the government tonight.

The rebels want to use the vote to take control of tomorrow's parliamentary business, which would enable them to force through legislation blocking no deal and delaying Brexit until at least January 31.

Mr Johnson said that if Parliament turns against him, MPs "will plainly chop the legs out from the under the UK" in its negotiations with the EU "and make any further negotiation absolutely impossible".

He claimed progress was being made in the negotiations but "if there is one thing that can hold us back in these talks it is the sense in Brussels that MPs may find some way to cancel the referendum or that tomorrow MPs will vote, with Jeremy Corbyn, for yet another pointless delay."

Having set out his plan to the cabinet and after addressing Tory MPs directly in a reception at Downing Street, Mr Johnson appeared on TV to say: "I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on October 31, no ifs or buts. We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum.

"I believe we will get a deal... let our negotiators get on with their work without that Sword of Damocles over their necks and without an election, which I don't want and you don't want."

Irish Independent

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