Boris Johnson in fresh push for UK general election
Prime minister Boris Johnson is to launch a third attempt to secure a UK general election and regain the initiative on Brexit.
Mr Johnson will table a parliamentary motion seeking an election under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act on Thursday night, to be voted on by MPs on Monday.
The move will force the Labour party to decide if it will enable the prime minister to hold an election on December 12.
If the parliamentary motion is approved, the government will then propose a new timetable to get Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal on to the statute book by November 6.
Should Labour refuse to vote for an election, Mr Johnson told the BBC: “We would campaign day after day for the people of this country to be released from subjection to a parliament that has outlived its usefulness.”
Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, Mr Johnson needs to obtain cross-party support and the backing of at least 434 MPs to secure an election.
Mr Johnson tabled parliamentary motions twice in September seeking an election, but failed to secure the numbers he needed to trigger a poll because Labour has refused to support it because of the risk of a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
One shadow cabinet member told the FT: “I feel certain” that Mr Corbyn would back an election.
Downing Street expects EU leaders on Friday to accept the UK’s request to delay the Brexit deadline until January 31 2020.
In a letter to Mr Corbyn, the prime minister admitted for the first time that Brexit would not be delivered before October 31.
He said: “This parliament has, with your encouragement, voted repeatedly for delay. The vote on Tuesday was parliament’s last chance to get Brexit done before 31 October and it voted, again, for delay.”
His latest announcement comes after the House of Commons voted in principle on Tuesday to back the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement bill which seeks to turn his Brexit deal into UK law. But MPs refused to support the swift timetable he had proposed to get the legislation through parliament.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested on Thursday that Labour’s priority was to agree a new timetable to push the bill through parliament and to keep the party’s promise to honour the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
He told journalists that Labour only wanted “days rather than weeks” of extra scrutiny of the bill.
Mr McDonnell added that he was not afraid of an election in December. “I am always up for an election whenever it comes, and I have got my winter coat ready,” he added. “I want a majority Labour government, I think that’s what we’ll get.”
But he admitted that the party had not yet decided how it would respond to a new election challenge from Mr Johnson. “We will confront that hurdle when we see it,” he said.
Some senior members of the shadow cabinet have resisted Labour backing an early election because they would prefer a second Brexit referendum, and the party is far behind the Tories in opinion polls.