Latest: Boris Johnson fails in bid to trigger early election after hundreds of MPs abstain

Latest: Boris Johnson fails in bid to trigger early election after hundreds of MPs abstain

    Brexit today... in brief
  • Boris Johnson’s attempt to trigger an early general election has failed.
  • Legislation designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31 has cleared the British House of Commons.
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Bill must be passed fully before he will entertain a general election.
  • Hilary Benn, who introduced the Bill, called it's passing “a major defeat for the Prime Minister’s damaging plan to take us out of the EU on 31 October without a deal.”

Latest: Boris Johnson’s attempt to trigger an early general election has failed after his motion did not secure the required support of two-thirds of British MPs, with the House of Commons voting 298 to 56.

The motion needed the backing of 434 MPs.

Mr Johnson accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to “stop the people from voting” after failing to secure enough support.

He said: “I think there is only one solution, I think he has become the first, to my knowledge, the first leader of the opposition in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election.

“And I can only speculate as to the reasons behind his hesitation. The obvious conclusion, I’m afraid, is that he does not think he will win.

“I urge his colleagues to reflect on what I think is the sustainability of his position overnight and in the course of the next few days.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “When No Deal is off the table, once and for all, we should go back to the people in a public vote or a General Election to decide our country’s future.”

Earlier (8.31pm): Boris Johnson has confirmed his desire to hold a general election on October 15 – as he looks set to be defeated on a crunch vote on his plan.

After legislation designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit cleared the House of Commons, the British Prime Minister told MPs that the country must go to the polls next month to decide who to send to Brussels to “sort this out”.

Mr Johnson, opening a debate on triggering an early general election, said:

I think it’s very sad that MPs have voted like this, I do, I think it’s a great dereliction of their democratic duty.

“But if I’m still Prime Minister after Tuesday October 15, then we will leave on October 31 with, I hope, a much better deal.”

However, his bid is unlikely to succeed at this stage without Labour support to reach the required two-thirds majority in the Commons.

Moments earlier, MPs approved a backbench Bill to delay Brexit in order to prevent a no-deal withdrawal from the European Union on October 31 after Mr Johnson suffered further parliamentary defeats today.

It cleared the Commons when it passed its third reading by 327 votes to 299, majority 28, and should now progress to the Lords – but the timings for that debate remain unclear.

Following a moment of confusion, an amendment seeking to give MPs a vote on Theresa May’s final Brexit deal was also passed.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock’s amendment was approved after tellers for those voting against the amendment were not put forward during voting.

A Government source said it was a “free vote so no one put tellers in”.

Mrs May’s final offer, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, emerged from cross-party talks earlier this year, but was never put before Parliament because she was ousted as Tory leader.

Tory former Cabinet minister Caroline Spelman became the latest MP to rebel against the Government, when she backed the Bill at its second reading, but will not have the party whip withdrawn.

Earlier (7.59pm): Legislation designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31 has cleared the British House of Commons.

It takes control of the Brexit process away from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

As expected, the no-deal Bill passed with 327 votes in favour and 299 against. It is now expected to appear before the House of Lords.

The Bill mandates Mr Johnson to seek a Brexit extension if there's no deal reached by October 19, seemingly avoiding a no-deal.

However, Mr Johnson has said he will refuse to request an extension and says it means there's only one way forward, calling a general election.

He says the vote scuppers any serious negotiations by taking the power away from him.

He's now moved a vote for a general election on October 15 but he needs a two-thirds majority to do that, something he doesn't have.

Those votes will unfold over the rest of the evening.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s a Bill that effectively ends the negotiations, a Bill that demands an extension at least until next year, and perhaps many more years to come, and a Bill that insists Britain acquiesce to the demands of Brussels and hands control to our partners.

It is a Bill designed to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history, the 2016 referendum.

“And it is therefore a Bill without precedent in the history of this House seeking as it does to force the Prime Minister with a pre-drafted letter to surrender in international negotiations.

“And I refuse to do this. It is clear there is only one way forward for the country. The House has voted repeatedly to leave the EU and yet it has also voted repeatedly to delay actually leaving.”

Labour former minister Hilary Benn who introduced the Bill applauded the “bravery and the courage” of MPs on the Government benches who had supported the Bill.

He said they “stood by their convictions in the national interest”.

He tweeted: “A major defeat for the Prime Minister’s damaging plan to take us out of the EU on 31 October without a deal.”

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “The country must now decide whether the Leader of the Opposition, or I, go to those negotiations in Brussels on the 17th October to sort this out.

“Because everybody will know that if (Mr Corbyn) were to be the prime minister he would beg for an extension, he would accept whatever Brussels demands and we would then have years more dither and delay, yet more arguments over Brexit and no resolution to the uncertainty that currently bedevils this country and our economy.”

The PM said an election “must now” be held on October 15 after the legislation designed to prevent a no-deal cleared the Commons.

Mr Johnson told MPs: “I think it’s very sad that MPs have voted like this, I do, I think it’s a great dereliction of their democratic duty.

“But if I’m still Prime Minister after Tuesday October 15 then we will leave on October 31 with, I hope, a much better deal.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Bill must be passed through the Lords and have received Royal Assent before he will entertain the thought of a general election.

He said: “Let the Bill pass and have Royal Assent and then we can have a general election.”

Mr Corbyn likened Mr Johnson’s offer of a general election on Tuesday, October 15, to “the offer of a poisoned apple to Snow White by a wicked queen”.

He added:

The Prime Minister says he has a strategy but he can’t say what it is and can’t tell the EU either – the truth is that there really is nothing there.

The Labour leader said: “The referendum carried no mandate for no-deal and no-deal is opposed by the public and this House.”

Mr Corbyn continued: “We want an election as we look forward to turfing this Government out.”

Earlier (5.48pm): MPs have voted for a second reading of a bill aiming to block a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

The legislation cleared its first Commons hurdle after MPs voted in favour by 329 votes to 300, majority 29. MPs are set to vote on the legislation this evening.

If they are victorious in legislating for a three-month delay to Brexit, Mr Johnson has vowed to continue with a vote for an early general election to be held next month.

Boris Johnson will open the debate on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in the Commons later this evening, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added:

The Prime Minister, while not wanting an election, believes that if his negotiating position has been destroyed then that should be tested at an election and the public should be able to decide on the next steps forward.

Mr Johnson challenged Labour Leader Corbyn to back his call for a general election. However, Labour will not yet support a general election, with party leader Jeremy Corbyn telling MPs that Mr Johnson "has no plan, no majority and no authority".

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