Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

    Main points from UK's Brexit showdown

  • British Prime Minister meeting Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Monday
  • Conservative MP Phillip Lee crosses the Commons floor meaning Tories lose their majority
  • Courts in the North told they should be prepared for extra sittings to ensure no-deal Brexit challenge is heard
  • Jeremy Corbyn has "very good meeting" in cross-party talks over stopping no-deal
  • Boris Johnson fails to `win over Tory rebels at meeting
  • Belfast court hears preliminary proceedings in challenge against prorogation and no-deal Brexit
  • Boris Johnson sticking to proposed election date of October 14
  • Opposition and rebel Tory MPs submit bill seeking emergency Brexit debate

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

As the British Government heads into a week of conflict over Brexit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seen his Tory party lose its majority in the British Parliament after Phillip Lee crossed the House to join the Liberal Democrats.

It now means that the British Government has 319 seats, if the 10 DUP members are counted, while the opposition has 320 seats.

Update: Michael Gove has pleaded with his colleagues to give the Prime Minister the “time and space” to pursue a Brexit deal.

In a statement on EU departure preparations, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said Boris Johnson has made progress in working towards the deal with Brussels.

“And the response that the Prime Minister has received from European leaders shows that they are ready to move – they want a deal too,” he told the House of Commons.

“And they are moving because the Prime Minister has been clear that matters must be resolved by October 31.

“If we drift then the incentive on them to deliver will quickly dissipate.

“So I hope that my colleagues in the House of Commons will give the Prime Minister the time and space he needs to pursue the opening he has secured and to get a good deal that we can all support.”

The no-deal Brexit planning supremo told MPs some of the risks associated with leaving without an agreement.

Mr Gove said: “The EU’s commitment that we will be subject to their common external tariff in a no-deal scenario will impose new costs, particularly on those who export food to Europe.

“And indeed the EU’s current approach to the rules of the single market will require, as things stand, the Republic of Ireland to impose new checks on goods coming from Northern Ireland.

“We, for our part, will do everything that we can to support the Belfast Agreement, to ensure the free flow of goods into Northern Ireland and to mitigate the impacts on Northern Ireland – including providing targeted support for the agriculture sector and for Northern Ireland’s economy.”

Update: Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael told PA: “Phillip Lee is somebody who has been a full-time GP… knows exactly the problems that our NHS is going to face as a result of a no-deal Brexit.

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

“He knows better than most in Government are prepared to admit that there is a real danger of lack of access to life-saving drugs that will be an inevitable consequence of the cavalier attitude that the Government has of crashing out.

“It’s not often than an MP entering the House of Commons has the effect of stopping Boris Johnson in full flow.

“Boris Johnson has never had authority because he’s not got a mandate and now he’s not got a majority.”

Ed Davey has said the Liberal Democrats are “delighted” to be the party to deprive Boris Johnson of his majority following the defection by Dr Phillip Lee on Tuesday afternoon.

“With a combination of Sarah Wollaston earlier in the recess and now Dr Phillip Lee joining us, Boris Johnson is in a total mess thanks to Liberal Democrat victories,” he said.

When asked what it would take for the Liberal Democrats to vote for a general election next month, he said: “We need to make sure that no-deal Brexit cannot happen, the Liberal Democrat’s are the strong, UK wide, remain party that wants to stop Brexit to make sure the general election isn’t over shadowed by an imminent crash out from the EU.

“We want to make sure Article 50 is extended to give the country that space to hold that general election – it’s the only sensible, democratic way forward.”

Update: Boris Johnson expects a deal to be agreed at the EU summit in October. As the summit starts on October 17, a Conservative MP, Jeremy Lefroy, asks if they will be able to pass all the required legislation before October 31.

The Prime Minister says that is what the government is planning.

It comes after Johnson confirms the Tories will remove the whip from MPs who rebel tonight, saying: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”.

His statement is now finished.

Update: Quotes of the day

“Enough is enough. The country wants this done and they want the referendum respected. We are negotiating a deal and I am confident of getting a deal” – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Brexit.

“This Conservative Government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways. It is using political manipulation, bullying and lies. And it is doing these things in a deliberate and considered way” – Defecting Tory Phillip Lee.

Update: Phillip Lee, who defected from the Tories today, has hinted that more Tory members may follow suit.

According to Sam Coates of Sky News, Mr Lee said: "I do know a number of colleagues are searching their souls.”

Update: Tory grandee Ken Clarke accused the PM of plotting to fight a hasty election before the consequences of a no-deal Brexit became “too obvious to the public”.

He said that Mr Johnson’s answers in the Commons confirmed his “obvious strategy”.

“Which is to set conditions which make no-deal inevitable, to make sure as much blame as possible is attached to the EU and to this House for that consequence and then as quickly as he can fight a flag-waving general election before the consequences of no-deal become too obvious to the public,” the Tory MP added.

Mr Johnson denied that he wants an election and stressed he wants “to get the deal done”, adding: “The best way, Mr Speaker, to get a deal, is to support the Government in the lobbies tonight.”

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

Update: Mr Johnson accused the Labour leader of being an “agent of further delay”.

“He has been converted with his hoards of Momentum activists trying to take over the streets, converted into the agent of those who would subvert democracy and overturn the will of the people,” the PM said.

“I’m afraid the right honourable gentleman, inadvertently or not, has become the agent of further delay, further confusion, further uncertainty for business in this country and abroad.”

Update: When asked about Jeremy Corbyn’s future if Labour were to lose the next general election, Mr Lewis said: “I think these are exceptional circumstance that we have been operating under for the last three years or so.

“I wouldn’t speculate on Jeremy Corbyn’s future, I think if there is a hung parliament I think it’s very likely there could be a working majority minority administration that could get take place.

“Don’t write Jeremy Corbyn off yet. Don’t write the Labour party off yet.”

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

Update: Jeremy Corbyn challenges Johnson to confirm he will adhere to any law passed on Brexit by parliament this week.

Mr Corbyn also criticised the PM’s claim Parliament was going to “surrender” by trying to block no-deal.

“I condemn the rhetoric the Prime Minister used when he talked about a ‘surrender bill’. I hope he will reflect on his use of language,” the Labour leader said.

“We are not surrendering because we are at war with Europe. They are surely our partners. If anything, it is a no-deal exit that would mean surrendering our industry, our jobs, surrendering our standards of protections in a trade deal with Donald Trump and the United States.”

Corbyn finishes by saying today is a "last chance to stop this government from riding roughshod over our constitutional and democratic rights".

Mr Corbyn accused the PM of leading a Government with no mandate, morals or majority after MP Phillip Lee quit the Tories to join the Lib Dems while Mr Johnson was giving his speech.

The Labour leader said MPs must stop the PM from “riding roughshod” over the constitution so that a “cabal” in Downing Street can “crash us out without a deal”.

“He isn’t winning friends in Europe, he’s losing friends at home. His is a Government with no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority,” he added.

Update: The Prime Minister said he wanted talks on an all-Ireland approach to agriculture and food products.

“We recognise that for reasons of geography and economics agri-food is increasingly managed on a common basis across the island of Ireland,” he said.

“We are ready to find ways forward that recognise this reality provided it clearly enjoys the consent of all parties and institutions with an interest.

“We will also be discussing this with the EU shortly and I will be discussing it with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar when I see him in Dublin on Monday.”

Labour frontbencher Clive Lewis has said stopping a no-deal Brexit is currently more important than a general election.

“I think for myself and many other Labour colleagues to vote for a general election – the two-thirds majority – we have to know that we have stopped our key priority, which is no deal Brexit,” he told PA.

“That means the legislation has to be Boris Johnson proof.”

He continued: “When we’re convinced of that, then I think it’s possible we would support a general election – if it’s in the national interest.”

Mr Lewis continued: “At the present though, until we are convinced it is Boris Johnson proof, it isn’t in the national interest because there’s an outside chance that he could use executive, proclamatory powers to enable a no deal Brexit.

“But if we are happy with that, and it’s in the national interest, then I can’t see why we wouldn’t vote for a general election to try and resolve this issue.”

Update: Mr Johnson insisted he would never “surrender” control of the Brexit negotiations to Brussels, in reference to legislation aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

“It would enable our friends in Brussels to dictate the terms of the negotiation. That’s what it does. There is only one way to describe this deal: it is Jeremy Corbyn’s surrender bill.

“It means running up the white flag… I want to make clear to everybody in this House there are no circumstances in which I will ever accept anything like it.

“I will never surrender the control of our negotiations in the way the Leader of the Opposition is demanding.”

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

Mr Johnson stressed that there will be no further “pointless” delay to Brexit as he pleaded with MPs to reject the motion that will pave the way to block a no-deal departure.

He said: “Enough is enough. The country wants this done and they want the referendum respected. We are negotiating a deal and though I am confident of getting a deal.

“We will leave by October 31 in all circumstances. There will be no further pointless delay.

“This House has never before voted the Prime Minister to surrender such a crucial decision to the discretion of our friends and neighbours overseas.

“I urge therefore this House to reject this Bill (sic) tonight so that we can get the right deal for our country, deliver Brexit and take the whole country forward.”

Update: Boris Johnson says every government member wants a new Brexit deal before adding that he believes the chances of a deal have "risen" in recent weeks and his government is "intensifying" the pace of meetings in Brussels.

He claims there are solutions which avoid infrastructure on the island of Ireland and that these have been well worked out.

He reveals he will be meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Monday.

He told MPs: “I was also able to use the G7 to follow up my conversations in Berlin and Paris with Chancellor Merkel and President Macron on Brexit, as well as with Prime Minister Conte, Prime Minister Sanchez and President Tusk.

“I have since spoken to Commission President Juncker and many other leaders and I was able to make clear to them all that everyone in this Government wants a deal… but it is a reality that the House of Commons has rejected the current Withdrawal Agreement three times and it simply cannot be resurrected and that is why I wrote to President Tusk.”

Mr Johnson insisted the chances of a deal “have risen” in recent weeks.

He said he wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk on August 19 to set out “our arguments” why any future agreement must see the “abolition of the anti-democratic backstop”.

“We’ve also been clear that we will need changes to the political declaration to clarify that our future relationship with the EU will be based on a free trade agreement and giving us full control over our regulations, our trade and our foreign and defence policy,” he continued.

“This clarity has brought benefits. Far from jeopardising negotiations it has made them more straightforward.

“In the last few weeks I believe the chances of a deal have risen.

“This week we are intensifying the pace of meetings in Brussels. Our European friends can see that we want an agreement and they’re beginning to reflect that reality in their response.”

Mr Johnson said the legislation aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit would “force me to go to Brussels and beg an extension” and “destroy any chance” of negotiating an agreement.

Update: Mr Johnson is heckled at the start of his speech as he says this is a country that still stands for democracy and the rule of law.

Conservative MP Phillip Lee has crossed the floor of the House of Commons.

His defection means Boris Johnson’s Government no longer has a working majority.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson tweeted: “Welcome @DrPhillipLeeMP – you have joined us at the most crucial time.

“I look forward to working with you to prevent a disastrous Brexit, and to fight for a fairer, more equal society.”

Update: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement in the House of Commons on the G7 summit.

Tory former minister Alistair Burt, one of the sponsors of the legislation aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit on October 31, confirmed he would be standing down at the next election.

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

The ex-Foreign Office minister told members in his North East Bedfordshire seat: “It has become clear that I have a fundamental, and unresolvable disagreement with our party leadership on the manner in which we leave the EU, and the consequences going forward of doing so.

“This is very likely to be at the root of the next election, and I believe it is unfair of me to present you with a conflict of interest between my views and those of the party at an election, even if current circumstances do not result in my having the whip in Parliament removed.”

Update: Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he is ready to fight a general election after concerns a move to trigger a poll by Boris Johnson could be a ploy to force through a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader expressed his confidence that MPs will this week deal the British Prime Minister a major blow by passing legislation to block a deal-less departure from the EU on Halloween.

Scores of protesters, many flying EU flags, have gathered outside the gates of Downing Street chanting “stop the coup” and “Boris out”.

Update: A post on a Twitter account believed to belong to Dominic Cummings referenced claims the Number 10 adviser had privately described negotiations with the EU as a “sham”.

The tweet from @OdysseanProject offered definitions of the words “negotiation” – a “discussion aimed at reaching an agreement” – and “sham” – “a thing that is not what it is purported to be”.

“Can’t tango alone,” it concluded.

The European Union acknowledged a no-deal Brexit remained a “distinct possibility” despite intensified talks between officials from both sides.

While there was “progress on process” because of the increased tempo of meetings, there were still no “concrete” proposals from the UK side about how to resolve the Irish backstop issue, the European Commission said.

The status of the negotiations has come under intense scrutiny after the Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings described the process as “a sham” in private meetings – a claim strongly denied by Downing Street.

Gavin Barwell, who was Theresa May’s chief of staff in Number 10, said he had heard the same reports about “sham negotiations” from “multiple” government sources.

Update: US vice president Mike Pence has urged Ireland and the EU to "negotiate in good faith" with Boris Johnson over Brexit.

Speaking on his Dublin visit with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr Pence also said he supports the UK's decision to leave the EU, but also recognises the challenges of the border..

Update: A Supreme Court spokeswoman confirmed September 17 is being considered as the date to hear any appeals that may arise from the legal actions over the British Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament.

Update: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to give a statement in the House of Commons at 3.30pm as MPs return from their summer break.

In the House of Commons agenda, Mr Johnson is to make a statement on the G7 summit.

It is slated to run for an hour, but the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has in the past allowed a lot of MPs to ask a question so it could run for up to two hours.

In a blog post on his website, former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart said: “No-deal is not a destination: it is a failure to reach a destination. And it would be perceived rightly – by our international partners and investors – as a signal failure of sense, statesmanship, and strategy.

“We would drop overnight into the margins of the world’s trading system. We would have left all the fundamental questions, about our future, unresolved and uncertain. And our reputation, prosperity and influence would be damaged for no benefit.”

He added that no-deal would “still leave us with the same divisions in public and parliament – making it very difficult to get out of no-deal/WTO and make any future trade deal”.

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

Mr Stewart also claimed that no-deal would increase demands for Northern Ireland and Scotland to leave the United Kingdom and would “force us to revert to slow and cumbersome systems of extradition and information exchange”.

He concluded: “We would face more years of debts and austerity, undermine Britain’s reputation for competence and reliability, and take us no further forward in defining any future relationships with the EU or anyone else.”

Update: SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Today’s cross-party meeting was another vital and productive step in working together to prevent this rogue Tory government from inflicting lasting harm with its extreme Brexit plans.

“The SNP’s priority is to stop a catastrophic no-deal and that is why we have co-sponsored the cross-party Bill designed to take that outcome off the table — an outcome Parliament has already previously rejected. We will explore every avenue and Parliamentary process open to us to stop that, however, while the SNP are ready and eager for a general election, Boris Johnson must not be allowed to use an election to force through no-deal.

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

“While the SNP has been at the forefront in standing up for Scotland’s interests in Westminster, the thirteen Scottish Tory MPs have been notably absent. With time running out – and with every vote pivotal – I urge the group of Scottish Tory MPs to work with us in safeguarding Scotland’s economic and social interests.

“We already know that there is no such thing as a good Brexit and under all Brexit outcomes we will be left poorer and worse off. The time to act is fast running out.”

Mr Blackford added: “The chaos crippling Westminster highlights once again the tale of two governments on show. In contrast to the instability dominating Westminster, the Scottish Government in Holyrood is getting on with the day job and addressing the vital issues we face.

“Scotland has been completely ignored throughout the Brexit process. Any pretence that Scotland will ever be treated as an equal partner in the UK has long been abandoned.

“The people of Scotland deserve the right to choose our own future – instead of having it dictated to us by Westminster.”

Update: A judge in the North has been told that courts there should be prepared to sit during the night and on weekends to ensure a challenge against a no-deal Brexit is heard.

A barrister for victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord said it was vital his case was concluded within two weeks, so the judgment could be examined by the Supreme Court later this month, when the UK’s highest court is set to arbitrate on challenges being taken in England and Scotland against the prorogation of Parliament.

Update: Asked if Labour was ready to support a vote for a general election under any circumstance, Mr Corbyn stressed the no-deal prevention legislation was the priority.

“We want a general election, as do all the other parties,” he said.

“The priority is to prevent a no-deal exit from the EU on the 31st and we will see what comes after that.”

Pressed for clarity, he said: “Let’s see what happens after this legislation has gone through and if an election is called, I’m absolutely ready to fight it.”

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

Mr Corbyn confirmed Labour has sought legal advice after fears an election timetable arranged by Boris Johnson may not be adhered to.

“We are looking at all the legal advice we are receiving at the present time but I think the important thing is to stop a no-deal exit and let the people of this country decide their own future,” he said.

Mr Corbyn declined to set a date for a no-confidence vote in the Government if the no-deal legislation fails.

“I will choose a time, but you will know soon enough,” he said.

Update: Rebel Conservative MP Sam Gyimah said there was now no way of leaving the EU with a deal by the October 31 deadline.

“The deadline doesn’t go with the grain of reality, there’s now no orderly way to leave the EU on October 31,” he said.

“Even if the Prime Minister got the deal at the 11th hour – which is what he says is likely to happen – there’s no way he will get legislation through Parliament and have it ratified by the 27 EU states by that date.

“Essentially if he wants to leave on October 31, that means he wants to leave without a deal.”

Mr Gyimah refused to speculate on how directly the government’s current strategy was influenced by Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings.

Dominic Cummings.
Dominic Cummings.

“As far as I’m concerned the buck stops with the Prime Minister – advisers advise, ministers decide,” he said.

“So, the Prime Minister takes full responsibility for any decisions made in the name of Downing Street.”

Mr Gyimah said regardless of the government’s threats to deselect rebels, he would be standing at the next election.

When asked if he would stand as an independent or join another party, he said: “Let’s see where we are and if Boris Johnson carries through on his threat, but I will stand at the next election.”

Update: The UK Government appears to have been considering suspending Parliament as early as mid-August, documents submitted to a Scottish court suggest.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has said he “fully expects” no-deal Brexit prevention legislation to be passed by Parliament.

The Labour leader, in an interview after cross-party talks over stopping no-deal, said: “It was a very good meeting. We met in my office and had a very good discussion.

“People were in good humour because we are working together to try to stop this government crashing out on October 31."

“Today, the priority is the application has been made for the order paper to be handed over to the Commons tomorrow in order to introduce legislation which we fully expect to pass through all its stages in the House of Commons tomorrow, and it will then go to the Lords and hopefully becomes law very quickly.”

Asked if he has the number of MPs to pass the legislation, Mr Corbyn said: “Yes. We do believe we have the MPs here and ready to support that legislation because many are alarmed at the consequences for jobs, for our economy, of crashing out on October 31 without a deal, which is what the Prime Minister seems determined to try to do, riding roughshod over Parliament and democracy in the process.

“That’s why Parliament asserting itself on behalf of those people who don’t want us to crash out is important.”

Mr Corbyn expressed confidence that every Labour MP will back the legislation.

He said: “I expect and hope that every Labour MP will support that legislation.”

Update: According to the Guardian, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has met with some of the Tory rebels this morning.

They included David Gauke, Philip Hammond, Greg Clark, Stephen Hammond, Nicholas Soames, Antoinette Sandbach, Margot James and Anne Milton, who left Downing Street without commenting to reporters.

David Gauke leaving Downing Street today.
David Gauke leaving Downing Street today.

According to the paper, Mr Johnson failed to persuade them to support the emergency bill on Brexit.

A source close to the group of Tory rebels that met Boris Johnson said the Prime Minister “gave an unconvincing explanation of how a deal could be ratified, legally drafted and legislated in the very short timeframe when Parliament is not prorogued”.

The source said Mr Johnson could not give a “reasonable answer” as to why the Government had provided the European Union with its alternative proposals to the backstop.

Mr Johnson argued that the threat of a no-deal Brexit was bearing fruit in the negotiations with Brussels and claimed that MPs who backed the rebel Bill would hand power to Jeremy Corbyn.

But the critics made the point that there were many around the table who had voted for a Brexit deal on three occasions – and some who hadn’t, including the Prime Minister.

In a discussion between Philip Hammond and members of the Prime Minister’s team about whether the EU can apply conditions to any Brexit extension, the former chancellor said Brussels could not do so both “according to law, and to conversations he had with EU officials when he was in office”, the source said.

The House of Commons won't hold the emergency Brexit debate until 6.30pm this evening.

Update: A former Tory adviser seems to be very impressed with the SO24 motion.

Chris White, who worked in the office of the chief whip and in the office of the leader of Commons, said it is "a masterful piece of drafting".

Update: In Belfast, victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord was back in court to challenge the prorogation of Parliament and a potential no-deal Brexit.

Proceedings at the High Court centred on the scheduling of a substantive hearing on those issues, with Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey stating that time constraints would make it impractical to hold a discrete interim hearing on the parliamentary suspension, before the full case was heard.

Judge McCloskey is to sit again on Wednesday afternoon to consider when the full case should be heard, making clear it would need to be brought forward from its current listing date of September 16.

Proceedings today were interrupted at their conclusion when Bangor man Chris Carter, who once unsuccessfully challenged Northern Ireland’s smoking ban, asked to address the court before going on to accuse those attempting to challenge prorogation of committing “high treason” against the Queen.

John Major and three other parties have been given the go-ahead to join Gina Miller’s legal action in London over the decision to suspend Parliament.

The High Court, which will hear Ms Miller’s judicial review on Thursday, has granted permission to Sir John to intervene in the case in writing.

Judges will decide later whether Sir John’s lawyers can make submissions at the hearing.

Scottish Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, who is Scotland’s senior law officer, the Welsh Government and Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti have also been given permission to intervene in writing.

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

A spokeswoman for the judiciary said: “The court has given permission for Sir John Major to intervene in writing in the judicial review brought by Gina Miller with the Prime Minister as defendant.

“The court will consider in due course Sir John’s application for permission for his counsel to make oral submissions at the hearing.

“Three other applications to intervene in writing on behalf of the Scottish Lord Advocate, the Welsh Government and Shami Chakrabarti have been granted.”

Update: Downing Street insists that progress was being made in talks with the European Union, pointing to comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council president Donald Tusk “which show very clearly that they are engaging in discussions with us”.

The British Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We were told very firmly at the beginning that there could be no discussions, now EU leaders have said that they are willing to work with us on trying to find solutions.”

Boris Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost has held a series of meetings in Brussels “joined by teams of officials who have expertise in all of the relevant areas” and he will be back there “later this week”.

The talks were covering a “full range of issues, which includes the Withdrawal Agreement but also the Political Declaration”.

Tories lose Westminster majority; Boris Johnson set to meet Taoiseach in Dublin

Downing Street also said the rebel Bill was a “blueprint for legislative purgatory”.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said it would cost “vast amounts”, with roughly £1 billion a month paid to the EU for an extension, and was “very clearly in Brussels’ interests not in the British interest”.

The spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s mood is determined. He wants to get on with delivering on the result of the referendum and the UK leaving the EU on October 31, ideally with a deal.

“We are opposed to the Bill which is being brought forward because it is about crippling negotiations and chopping the legs out from under the UK position, and making any further negotiation impossible.”

Update: Sky's Sam Coates reporting from a briefing in 10 Downing Street that Boris Johnson will not change the proposed election date.

Downing Street sources have previously indicated that they were targeting an October 14 election if the Prime Minister was defeated by a rebel bid to seize control of the Commons agenda on Tuesday night.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed that if there was to be an election it would be held before the European Council summit of EU leaders on October 17.

“The Prime Minister does not want to hold an election. If, by destroying his negotiating position, MPs force an election, then that would take place before the October European Council.”

Update: MPs have submitted the bill seeking an emergency debate on Brexit. It is now up to Commons Speaker John Bercow to decide if the debate can go ahead.

The motion submitted under Standing Order 24 states that the Commons has “considered the matter of the need to take all necessary steps to ensure that the United Kingdom does not leave the European Union on October 31 without a withdrawal agreement”.

It adds provisions including that Parliament is not adjourned on Monday through to Wednesday until the Speaker reports the Royal Assent to any act agreed upon by both Houses.


Westminster is braced for a showdown that could lead to a snap election in the UK as a cross-party alliance takes on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A cross-party group will attempt to use a motion today which would allow them to control the Commons business on Wednesday, guaranteeing time to debate a new law to block a no-deal Brexit.

This could be achieved through an emergency debate being sought from Commons Speaker John Bercow under the rules of standing order number 24, commonly called SO24.

The legislation would require a delay to Brexit unless there was a deal or Parliament explicitly backed leaving the EU without one by October 19.

Here is the full text of the motion.

Under the terms of the Bill, the British Government must ask the European Union for a delay to Brexit until January 31, 2020, if no agreement has been reached and MPs have not agreed to a no-deal exit.

If the European Council proposes an extension to a different date then the Prime Minister must accept that extension within two days, unless the House of Commons rejects it.

A senior Government source said Mr Johnson could go to the country on October 14 – unusually for Westminster elections, that is a Monday rather than a Thursday – if he is defeated today.

That would require the support of two-thirds of MPs under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, but some are reportedly suspicious the Prime Minister would seek to alter the election date to delay it until after Brexit.

Boris Johnson needs to continue as prime minister until November 20 to avoid becoming the shortest-serving PM in UK history.

On that date he will overtake George Canning, who clocked up 118 days as prime minister before his death in 1827, and who holds the record for the shortest time in office. Mr Johnson is currently on 41 days.

George Canning served as Tory prime minister between April and August 1827. He is one of a small number of prime ministers to die while still in office.

Canning is also famous for taking part in a duel with a fellow cabinet minister.

The event took place at 6am on September 21, 1809, on Putney Heath in south London, and involved Canning, then foreign secretary, drawing a pistol against minister of war Viscount Castlereagh.

Castlereagh believed Canning had been plotting to get him sacked and challenged him to a duel.

Canning failed to shoot his colleague and in return was wounded by Castlereagh in the thigh.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn today said a vote of no confidence is “very much there on the table” as he pledged to “do everything we can to stop” no-deal.

If the vote won the support of a majority of MPs, there would be 14 days for another government to be formed, otherwise Parliament would be dissolved and a general election triggered.

In Edinburgh, another cross-party group of MPs and peers who want to block Parliament’s suspension will have a full hearing of their application today.

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