Tuesday 3 September 2019

Tory civil war erupts after Boris threatens snap election on Monday October 14 if Remainers vote to block No Deal today

In a dramatic statement to the nation from Downing Street, the PM upped the ante by making clear a vote set to be forced by Remainers today will be treated as a confidence issue
The Prime Minister stood in Downing Street yesterday evening and insisted he 'does not want' an election, but warned that rebels would 'chop the legs' from the Government's EU negotiations if they side with Jeremy Corbyn. 

But the PM’s hardline strategy has touched a nerve, with rebel leaders accused Mr Johnson of using the election to try and ‘purge’ opponents of No Deal - with up to 20 Tory MPs, poised to join opposition MPs today to try to force Mr Johnson to delay Brexit.

And last night Amber Rudd, the Work and Pensions Secretary, who has been a leading opponent of No Deal, told him not to take such a ‘dramatic’ step of kicking out Tory MPs and instead try to ‘hold our party together’.

Senior Government sources later confirmed Mr Johnson would table a motion to schedule a General Election for October 14 if MPs back the cross-party move to seize control of Commons business. 

A motion for the early election will be tabled by the Government which would require the support of two-thirds of MPs under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

A government source said MPs will face a 'simple choice' today. The source said the vote would be treated as though it is a vote of no confidence, and that any Conservative MP voting against the Government would have the whip removed from them.

The source speaking yesterday, said: 'If they vote tomorrow to wreck the negotiation process, to go against giving Britain the ability to negotiate a deal, then they'll also have to reflect on what comes next.'

In a sign of the anti-establishment campaign he intends to fight, Mr Johnson said he wanted a mandate to pursue the 'people's agenda' of boosting the economy and public services.

Delivering a stark message to Remainers over the crunch showdown today, Mr Johnson said he still 'hoped' rebels would back down. 

'But if they do they will plainly chop the legs out from under the UK position and make any negotiation absolutely impossible,' he said.

'I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on the 31st of October. No ifs or buts.

‘We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum and armed and fortified with that conviction I believe we will get a deal at that crucial summit in October, a deal that Parliament will certainly be able to scrutinise.'

Spelling out the choice, he said: ‘Let our negotiators get on with their work without that sword of Damocles over their necks and without an election, without an election.'

However Miss Rudd, the Work and Pensions Secretary and a leading opponent of No Deal, warned him last night not to go too far.

She told The Spectator magazine: ‘I’m really urging the Government to think very carefully about taking such a dramatic step.

‘I have made my views clear to the Prime Minister that we should not be a party that is trying to remove from our party two former chancellors, a number of ex-Cabinet ministers – that the way to hold our party together and to get a deal is to bring them onside.’

It was unclear last night how many Tory MPs were likely to join the rebellion, with estimates ranging from a dozen to as many as 20.

The typically tub-thumping intervention came after Mr Johnson held a crisis meeting with his Cabinet and spent yesterday afternoon privately urging Tory MPs to fall back into line. 

He has caused fury among centrists by threatening to remove the whip from rebel Tories who join the effort to stop the UK crashing out on October 31 - effectively ending their careers. 
Former Cabinet minister David Gauke claimed Mr Johnson actively wanted to lose the showdown so he can 'purge' Remainers reshape it into a new hardline Eurosceptic electoral force.
Ex-chancellor Philip Hammond demanded to know what he was doing to win concessions from the EU.
But the government still looks on track to lose the crunch battle later today.
The scale of the challenge Mr Johnson could face in an election was also underlined last night when Nigel Farage demanded the PM back a 'clean break' from the EU, saying 'No deal is the best deal.'
Tory success in a poll could rely on Mr Farage's Brexit Party not splitting the Eurosceptic vote in key marginal seats.
Other MPs voiced fury at Remainers such as Amber Rudd and Nicky Morgan who are serving even though they previously spoke out against No Deal. Ms Rudd has urged Mr Johnson to 'hold the party together' rather than expel rebels. 

How would the PM call a snap general election? 

Boris Johnson would request a general election on October 14 if MPs back a cross-party move to seize control of Commons business today, a government source has said. 
Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (FTPA) brought in eight years ago, polls are held in May every five years - with the next one scheduled in 2022.
But Mr Johnson has a number of methods to try and trigger an early election, such as putting down a motion in the Commons and secure the agreement of two-thirds of MPs.
MPs could also pass a motion stating the House has no confidence in the government, and a new election must be held unless they win the confidence of MPs, or an alternative arrangement is found within a 14-day period. 
An alternative course could be to pass a new piece of legislation dictating a national vote on a specified date - which would only require a simple majority of MPs.
This could be a simple one line bill stating when an election would be, and FTPA would continue to apply in all other situations. This was something previously considered by Theresa May in 2017.
But additional measures may well be unnecessary as Jeremy Corbyn has said he is eager for an election to 'let the people decide' on Brexit, and Mr Johnson will dare him to block the poll in a vote on Wednesday. 
However, some Remainers are wary of supporting the move unless there is a cast-iron guarantee that the election will take place before the Brexit deadline.
The Fixed Term Parliaments Act gives Mr Johnson discretion to set the date after the Commons approves an election, and there is currently little or no trust between the parties.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has egged Mr Johnson on to call an election despite warnings from his own side that he is walking into an 'elephant trap' that could see Labour trounced in an election. 
The senior government source said MPs who rebel today will 'effectively be voting for a rapid election'.
'He wants MPs to go to conference for recess. He wants four weeks of intense negotiations to get a deal,' the source said.
‘But if MPs don’t want to let the government get on and negotiate then the public will be forced into a choice.’
Despite the developing drama yesterday, Mr Johnson found time to meet Carry On actress Barbara Windsor, who is campaigning for better dementia support, in the No10 garden. And he has taken possession of a new Jack Russell dog with girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
The growing prospect of an election sent the Pound tumbling yesterday, with currency markets nervous about the consequences for the country. Chancellor Sajid Javid summoned City figures to No11 to try to calm anxiety about the situation.
Opposition MPs will today try to seize control of proceedings in the Commons to try to crash through a law which would make it illegal for the PM to pursue a chaotic split from the EU. 
Yesterday evening they published the text of the mooted legislation, which orders the premier to ask the EU for a Brexit extension to January 31 - and accept their terms.
As many as 21 Tory MPs are believed to be considering backing the 'stop No Deal' plan. Mr Gauke, Mr Hammond and former minister Alistair Burt have all signed the Bill - meaning they have already sealed their fate.
The process for calling an election is not entirely straightforward for the PM. 
Under the law, a premier must secure a two-thirds majority in a Commons vote to trigger an election. 
That would require support from the Opposition, which would normally be forthcoming. 
But Remainers will be wary of supporting the move unless there is a cast-iron guarantee that the poll will take place before the Brexit deadline. 
An alternative course could be to pass a new piece of legislation dictating a national vote - which would only require a simple majority. Legally there must be 25 days between dissolution of Parliament and polling day.
By convention the country votes on a Thursday, making October 10, 17 and 24 favourites. However, there is an EU summit on October 17 which might prove an obstacle.   

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