‘Is he frit?’ Boris Johnson goads ‘dithering’ Jeremy Corbyn for blocking election

Boris Johnson blasted ‘dithering’ Jeremy Corbyn for plotting a ‘surrender’ to the EU today as the Labour leader prepares to block his demand for a snap election.

Taking his first PMQs, a furious Mr Johnson branded Mr Corbyn a ‘chlorinated chicken’ for refusing to agree to a poll on October 15 and said he ‘used to be a democrat’.

Channelling Margaret Thatcher’s famous taunt to opponents, Mr Johnson said: ‘Is he frit?’ 

At one point the premier also turned the air blue in the chamber by claiming the Opposition’s economic strategy was ‘sh** or bust’. 

Meanwhile, the Labour leader was jeered by Tory MPs as he accused the PM of trying to ‘avoid scrutiny’. 

Mr Johnson is facing more massive showdowns in Parliament today as a rebel alliance tries to force through legislation that would rule out No Deal at Halloween.  

He has also called a vote tonight on holding a snap election so the ‘people can decide’ after Remainers seized control of Commons business. 

But the premier needs agreement from two-thirds of the House to trigger a national ballot.  

And despite spending years demanding an election, Mr Corbyn has insisted he will stop one happening until legislation has been passed guaranteeing that the UK cannot crash out.

The decision – described as the ‘mother of all U-turns’ by ministers – leaves the country in limbo, with Mr Johnson now unable to control the House – but also powerless to return to the electorate.

The premier gathered his Cabinet in Downing Street this morning as they frantically try to plot a way through the burgeoning crisis. 

And Mr Johnson tweeted his determination to push ahead with Brexit. ‘Corbyn and his surrender bill would mean years of uncertainty and delay. I am determined to lead this country forward and take Britain out of the EU on October 31st,’ he said. 

The latest shocking developments began when Mr Johnson lost a crunch vote at around 10pm, giving a rebel alliance control of Commons business with the aim of passing a law to stop the UK crashing out of the EU at the end of October, by an unexpectedly large margin of 328 to 301. 

Some 21 Tory MPs – including eight former Cabinet ministers – defied threats of deselection to side with the Opposition over Brexit.

Channelling Margaret Thatcher's famous taunt to opponents, Boris Johnson demanded to know whether Jeremy Corbyn was 'frit' of a snap election

Channelling Margaret Thatcher's famous taunt to opponents, Boris Johnson demanded to know whether Jeremy Corbyn was 'frit' of a snap election

Channelling Margaret Thatcher’s famous taunt to opponents, Boris Johnson demanded to know whether Jeremy Corbyn was ‘frit’ of a snap election

In a barrage of stinging jibes, Mr Johnson branded Mr Corbyn a 'chlorinated chicken' and said he 'used to be a democrat'

In a barrage of stinging jibes, Mr Johnson branded Mr Corbyn a 'chlorinated chicken' and said he 'used to be a democrat'

In a barrage of stinging jibes, Mr Johnson branded Mr Corbyn a ‘chlorinated chicken’ and said he ‘used to be a democrat’

The Labour leader was jeered by Tory MPs as he accused the Prime Minister of trying to 'avoid scrutiny' in the Commons

The Labour leader was jeered by Tory MPs as he accused the Prime Minister of trying to 'avoid scrutiny' in the Commons

The Labour leader was jeered by Tory MPs as he accused the Prime Minister of trying to ‘avoid scrutiny’ in the Commons

The rebel legislation and the PM’s bid to force an early general election are both on the Commons order paper today

The politicians, including veteran Ken Clarke and Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames, have now been brutally axed from the Conservatives, effectively ending their careers.

But the tough move means Mr Johnson’s numbers in the Commons are disastrously low, far short of an overall majority and completely unsustainable.

As well as the internal reprisals, Mr Johnson responded seconds after the vote by declaring he will call a snap election rather than accept the ‘surrender Bill’, with the date pencilled in for October 15.

However he faces an uphill battle to get his plan through the Commons tonight, as the law dictates that two-thirds of MPs must agree to hold an early election.  

Mr Corbyn shouted at Mr Johnson across the despatch box last night: ‘He wants to table a motion for a general election, fine. Get the bill through first in order to take No Deal off the table.’ 

And shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said during a round of interviews: ‘We are not voting for a general election today. 

‘We are not dancing to Boris Johnson’s tune. If Johnson says the election will be on 15 October no one trusts him.’ 

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg (left) and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd (right) were among the ministers attending an emergency Cabinet meeting in No10 this morning

Mr Johnson tweeted today to underline his vow to secure Brexit by the end of October despite the Remainer revolt

Mr Johnson tweeted today to underline his vow to secure Brexit by the end of October despite the Remainer revolt

Mr Johnson tweeted today to underline his vow to secure Brexit by the end of October despite the Remainer revolt 

Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said Mr Corbyn was ‘perverse’ and ‘frightened’.

WHAT HAPPENS TODAY? HOW UK COULD GO TO THE POLLS ON OCT 15 

A furious Boris Johnson will today push a Commons motion calling for an early General Election. If only getting it passed was so easy.

Mr Johnson’s proposal must be backed by two-thirds of MPs, a requirement under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act to stop Prime Ministers skewing the system by calling elections when their opponents are weak.

The motion likely to be debated and voted on in the Commons this evening. But Jeremy Corbyn says Labour will not support it – hobbling its chances of success – unless a no-deal Brexit is already taken off the table.

Labour fear a ‘trap’ whereby Mr Johnson, who can still decide the exact timings of an election after winning the ability to call one, changes the proposed date from October 15 to after October 31, dissolving Parliament and stopping MPs preventing No Deal from happening.

Before any of this can happen, MPs will this afternoon debate taking No Deal off the table – the move made possible by Mr Johnson’s lost vote last night.

If passed, the catchily titled European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill 2019 would force the Government to ask the EU to delay Brexit until January 31 2020 unless the Commons has agreed a deal by October 19. No Deal would be off the table, for now.

But the Bill would still need to clear all stages in the Commons and the Lords to become law – a process that should take weeks and at the minimum would take days.

It means when Mr Johnson’s election motion is debated later in the day, No Deal will still be on the table – and barring a change of heart from Labour it is likely to fail.

Other options include the government calling a motion of no confidence in itself, or attempting to pass a law that declares the next election must be on a certain date. That would only need support of a majority of MPs. Either way we would be in uncharted territory. 

‘What is very clear to me is the leader of the opposition has said consistently that he wants a general election and it is perverse of him to say now that he doesn’t want one, and it appears to me he is rather frightened of a general election,’ he told Today. 

‘We have had three years of this debate and we have gone round and round, and it may well be that a general election is the best way forward and the only way to solve the impasse.’ 

The staggering blow last night came in the first vote of Mr Johnson’s premiership. ‘Not a good start, Boris!’ shouted one Labour MP as the result came in. 

And the punishment that follow for rebels was described by one government source as a ‘Remainer bloodbath’.   

Former International Development Secretary Rory Stewart called the decision to throw him out of the party ‘astonishing’ and said it was something ‘you associate with other countries’ rather than Britain. 

He received the news of his sacking as he was being given the GQ award for politician of the year. 

‘It came by text,’ the Penrith and the Border MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘It was a pretty astonishing moment. Remember, only a few weeks ago I was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party against Boris Johnson and I was in the Cabinet. And it has all gone very quickly in six weeks. 

‘It feels a little bit like something you associate with other countries – one opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and one’s seat too.’ 

Mr Stewart said there were ’30 or 40′ other Tories who had been wanting to block No Deal but were cowed into backing the PM by the deselection threats.  

Yesterday’s victory for pro-EU MPs came despite Mr Johnson threatening to end the careers of Tories who joined the revolt by deselecting them. 

Speaking after the result, Mr Johnson said Parliament was ‘on the brink of wrecking’ the Brexit negotiations.

‘The people are going to have to choose,’ he said last night. ‘I can confirm tonight we are tabling a motion under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.’ 

The scale of the Tory rebellion was larger than many had expected at Westminster, with the ‘aggressive’ government tactics failing to whittle down numbers.

Jeremy Corbyn’s U-turn: How Labour leader changed his tune on a general election 

Jeremy Corbyn has been consistently demanding a general election for years.

But now the opportunity has arisen, he suddenly does not seem so keen.  

September 2018, Twitter: ‘We need a General Election and I’m ready for it. Bring it on.’ 

November 2018, CBI speech: ‘If the Government cannot get its central policy through Parliament, then we will demand a general election.’ 

December 2018, Daily Mirror: ‘The Government is going to struggle. It may well resign. There may well be a general election. And I can’t wait.’

May 2019, Twitter: ‘Let the people decide our country’s future: we need a General Election now.’ 

September 2, 2019, speech in Salford: ‘When a government finds itself without a majority the solution is not to undermine democracy. The solution is to let the people decide, and call a general election.’ 

September 3, 2019, House of Commons: ‘Get the Bill through first in order to take No Deal off the table.’ 

The combative attitude of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg during the debate on the business motion seemed to infuriate many who were wavering.

Former minister Guto Bebb said he believed Mr Rees-Mogg cost the government at least four votes.

‘There were at least four individuals who were still doubtful who changed their position to being supportive and voting with us on the back of Jacob’s performance,’ he told Sky News. ‘He was deemed to be arrogant, out of touch and I think the way in which he treated some of the interventions was a red rag to bull in many cases.’ 

The roll call of rebels included ex-Chancellor Mr Hammond, who has already vowed to fight efforts to deselect him, as well as former ministers Justine Greening and Alistair Burt – who both pre-empted their punishments earlier by announcing they would be standing down at the election.

Other Cabinet veterans were Sir Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve, Mr Clarke, Greg Clark, Rory Stewart, and Caroline Nokes. Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, also rebelled. 

A Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘The Chief Whip is speaking with those Tory MPs who did not vote with the Government this evening. They will have the whip removed.’ 

A rebel source said No10 was ‘removing the whip from two former chancellors, a former lord chancellor and Winston Churchill’s grandson’. 

‘What has has happened to the Conservative Party?’ they added. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in the Commons last night, has made clear he will block an election until No Deal has been ruled out

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in the Commons last night, has made clear he will block an election until No Deal has been ruled out

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in the Commons last night, has made clear he will block an election until No Deal has been ruled out

Furious Boris Johnson (pictured last night in the Commons) has called for a snap election after rebel MPs seized control of the house by 328 to 301

Furious Boris Johnson (pictured last night in the Commons) has called for a snap election after rebel MPs seized control of the house by 328 to 301

Furious Boris Johnson (pictured last night in the Commons) has called for a snap election after rebel MPs seized control of the house by 328 to 301 

Pictured are the Tory rebels who are now facing the sack after voting against Boris Johnson. (Left to right top row) David Gauke, Alistair Burt, Stephen Hammond, Philip Hammond, Margot James, Ken Clarke and Caroline Nokes. (Left to right middle row) Rory Stewart, Anne Milton, Richard Harrington, Guto Bebb, Antoinette Sandbach, Sam Gyimah and Justine Greening. (Left to right bottom row) Richard Benyon, Steve Brine, Greg Clark, Dominic Grieve, Ed Vaizey , Nicholas Soames and Oliver Letwin

Pictured are the Tory rebels who are now facing the sack after voting against Boris Johnson. (Left to right top row) David Gauke, Alistair Burt, Stephen Hammond, Philip Hammond, Margot James, Ken Clarke and Caroline Nokes. (Left to right middle row) Rory Stewart, Anne Milton, Richard Harrington, Guto Bebb, Antoinette Sandbach, Sam Gyimah and Justine Greening. (Left to right bottom row) Richard Benyon, Steve Brine, Greg Clark, Dominic Grieve, Ed Vaizey , Nicholas Soames and Oliver Letwin

Pictured are the Tory rebels who are now facing the sack after voting against Boris Johnson. (Left to right top row) David Gauke, Alistair Burt, Stephen Hammond, Philip Hammond, Margot James, Ken Clarke and Caroline Nokes. (Left to right middle row) Rory Stewart, Anne Milton, Richard Harrington, Guto Bebb, Antoinette Sandbach, Sam Gyimah and Justine Greening. (Left to right bottom row) Richard Benyon, Steve Brine, Greg Clark, Dominic Grieve, Ed Vaizey , Nicholas Soames and Oliver Letwin

The bitter Tory civil war exploded after frantic developments yesterday including: 

  • Former Tory minister Phillip Lee dramatically stripped the government’s majority by crossing the floor of the chamber to defect to the Lib Dems while Mr Johnson was speaking; 
  • Mr Johnson was embroiled in a bitter clash with Mr Hammond during ‘peace talks’ at No10 during which he accused him of trying to ‘hand power over to a Junta that includes Jeremy Corbyn’; 
  • Nigel Farage said there will be no Brexit pact with the Tories unless Mr Johnson explicitly adopts No Deal as his policy; 
  • Opposition MPs applauded Speaker John Bercow as he ridiculed the Prime Minister ‘do or die’ pledge to secure Brexit by October 31; 
  • Downing Street delayed the planned election by a day after being warned that October 14 clashed with a Jewish holiday; 
  • Brexiteer peers tabled 90 amendments to the rebel Bill as they geared up to try and filibuster when it reaches the Upper House later this week; 

After the result was declaring in a hushed Commons chamber last night, a clearly angry PM rose to his feet to condemn the decision.

‘Let there be no doubt about the consequences of this vote tonight,’ he said. 

The 21 Tory rebels who are now facing the sack

Philip Hammond

Ex-Chancellor and bete noir of Brexiteers (pictured, right). 

Points out he voted for the Withdrawal Agreement three times. 

Constituency: Runnymede. 

Leave vote: 50 per cent

Dominic Grieve

Second referendum supporter who says he wants to ‘save the Tory party’ from Mr Johnson. 

A QC, he has been legal brains behind much of opposition to No Deal.

Constituency: Beaconsfield. Leave vote: 49 per cent

Kenneth Clarke

Tory big beast, former Chancellor and, at 79, the ‘Father of the House of Commons’. 

Has said he would vote to bring down Tory government to stop No Deal. 

Constituency: Rushcliffe. Leave vote: 41 per cent

Sir Oliver Letwin 

Gaffe-prone MP who was David Cameron’s policy chief. 

Has argued that to stop No Deal MPs would have to take over the role of the government.

Constituency: West Dorset. Leave vote: 51 per cent

David Gauke

Ex-Justice Secretary and leader of the ‘Gaukeward Squad’ of rebels (right). 

Accused the PM of a ‘purge’ for threatening to deselect rebels and of trying to turn the Conservatives into the Brexit Party.

Constituency: South West Hertfordshire. Leave vote: 46 per cent

Rory Stewart

Former Development Secretary who ran an enthusiastic, if futile, leadership bid. Tory Remainer pin-up.

Constituency: Penrith and the Border.Leave vote: 55 per cent

Sir Nicholas Soames

Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson (pictured, right). 

Compared Brexiteers to a ‘growling Alsatian that must be kicked really hard in the balls’.

Constituency: Mid Sussex. 

Leave vote: 46 per cent

Antoinette Sandbach 

The 6ft 4in MP longstanding rebel. Branded PM ‘staggeringly hypocritical’ for threatening to deselect rebels.

Constituency: Eddisbury. 

Leave vote: 52 per cent

Alistair Burt 

Former Foreign Office minister who quit government in March after joining anti-No Deal rebels. Refused to rule out standing against Tories.

Constituency: North East Bedfordshire. Leave vote: 53 per cent

Sam Gyimah

Quit as science minister in protest at Mrs May’s ‘naive’ deal and backed a second referendum.

Constituency: East Surrey. 

Leave vote: 54 per cent

Caroline Nokes

Ex-immigration minister who said yesterday her constituents ‘mean a whole lot more to me than keeping the Conservative whip’.

Constituency: Romsey. 

Leave vote: 46 per cent

Margot James

Self-made millionaire who resigned as culture minister after rebelling against Mrs May to stop No Deal (pictured, right).

Constituency: Stourbridge. Leave vote: 64 per cent

Guto Bebb

Ex-defence minister who quit to stop No Deal. Is standing down at the election.

Constituency: Aberconwy. 

Leave vote: 52 per cent

Richard Harrington

Ex-business minister. Quit this year to stop No Deal and last week announced he would stand down as a Tory MP at the election.

Constituency: Watford. 

Leave vote: 51 per cent

Justine Greening

Ex-Education Secretary who will stand down at the next election (pictured, right).

Constituency: Putney. 

Leave vote: 28 per cent

Anne Milton 

Spiky-haired Guildford MP. The rebels’ unofficial whip.

Constituency: Guildford. 

Leave vote: 41 per cent

Greg Clark

Ex-member of May’s Cabinet who once told Business leaders ‘we can’t have No Deal’.

Constituency: Tunbridge Wells. 

Leave vote: 45 per cent

Stephen Hammond

Ex-Transport minister (right) and MP for a seat under threat from Lib Dems.

Constituency: Wimbledon. 

Leave vote: 29 per cent

Ed Vaizey 

A friend of David Cameron’s sacked as Arts Minister by Mrs May.

Constituency: Wantage. 

Leave vote: 46 per cent

Steve Brine

Low-key ex-public health minister who quit government in March.

Constituency: Winchester. 

Leave vote: 40 per cent

Richard Benyon

Former Army lieutenant who served in Northern Ireland and the Far East and an ex-agriculture minister. 

Constituency: Newbury. Leave vote: 48 per cent  

‘It means that parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal we might be able to strike in Brussels.

‘Because tomorrow’s Bill would hand control of the negotiations to the EU. And that would mean more dither, more delay, more confusion.

‘And it would mean that the EU themselves would be able decide how long to keep this country In the EU.

And since I refuse to go along with that plan, we are going to have to make a choice. 

‘I don’t want an election. The public don’t want an election. But if the House votes for this Bill tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on Oct 17 to sort this out and take this country forward.’ 

Mr Corbyn said: ‘He wants to table a motion for a general election, fine.

‘Get the Bill through first in order to take no deal off the table.’

Dame Margaret Hodge and his shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry appeared to back his position.

Dame Margaret said: ‘I will not be supporting a snap general election because it is nothing more than a trap set by the most untrustworthy PM in living memory.

‘This is just part of Johnson’s ploy to get a No Deal Brexit over the line regardless of the disastrous consequences. We must reject it.’ 

Emily Thornberry then added: ‘There’s not going to be a general election tomorrow, because we’re not going to vote for it.’

But Labour backbencher John Mann was outraged, tweeting: ‘Oh these clever people. Let’s spit on the working class and a majority of the electorate. Stop Brexit. 

‘Then ask them to vote us into power. We are dealing with people who don’t respect the views of the people.’ 

Earlier, sources close to shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the party was looking at ‘mechanisms’ that could bind the PM to a specific election date. 

During another day of high drama in Westminster, former minister Phillip Lee crossed the floor in the Commons and joined the Lib Dems. 

As the PM was struggling to defend his Brexit stance in the chamber, Dr Lee walked away from his colleagues and went to sit with Jo Swinson’s pro-EU party. 

Kicking off the debate in Parliament yesterday, former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin insisted that the ‘threat’ of No Deal was not a ‘credible negotiating strategy’. 

He said it was ‘decision time’ for MPs and they had to take their ‘last chance’ to stop the UK from crashing out.

‘Over the last six weeks the Government has not produced a single indication of any viable proposal to replace the backstop by any alternative likely to prove acceptable to the EU,’ Sir Oliver said.

‘The likelihood of the Government reaching a deal at the council meeting on October 17 and 18 on the terms the Government itself has set is accordingly slight.’

He warned this was the last week Parliament will have to block a no-deal exit on October 31, noting: ‘It’s decision time.

‘If MPs across the House want to prevent a no-deal exit on October 31 they will have the opportunity to do so if, but only if, they vote for this motion this evening.’ 

But Mr Rees-Mogg barely bothered to disguise his anger as he took to the despatch box, saying the business motion tonight was a ‘subversion of democracy’. 

He also swiped viciously at the Speaker for bending procedures to permit the move.

Mr Bercow was applauded by the House as he boasted about bending Commons rules to trigger a crunch vote. 

Amid fury from Eurosceptics, he insisted he would keep ‘facilitating the House of Commons’. 

In a reference to Mr Johnson’s solemn ‘do or die’ pledge to secure Brexit by Halloween, he said: 

‘I’ve done it, I am doing it, I will continue to do it to the best of my ability without fear or favour – to coin a phrase, come what may, do or die.’ 

In a statement yesterday, Dr Lee said the ‘party I joined in 1992 is not the party I am leaving today’.

‘This Conservative government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways,’ he said.

Losing his overall majority is a symbolic blow to the PM, although in reality the Brexit issue has been splitting party loyalties to such an extent that the challenges he faces are the same. 

However, Mr Johnson was defiant as he addressed MPs before the vote. 

Attacking Remainer plans to seize control of the Commons and pass legislation ruling out No Deal, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is Jeremy Corbyn’s surrender bill.’ 

In a stinging barb about the concessions to Brussels he added: ‘They would be able to keep us in the EU for as long as they like and on their terms.’   

Mr Johnson stressed that there will be ‘no further pointless delay’ to Brexit. 

‘Enough is enough. The country wants this done and they want the referendum respected,’ he said. 

‘We are negotiating a deal and though I am confident of getting a deal, we will leave by October 31 in all circumstances.’     

Prior to the defection the PM had an effective majority of just one. 

Dr Lee switching sides made it a minority government – although the premier can also rely on the support of Charlie Elphicke, who is currently suspended from the Tory whip. 

The axing of another 21 MPs who rebelled takes the government a long way into the red. 

Prior to the introduction of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act in 2011, it would have been impossible for a government to survive in such circumstances.

But Mr Johnson’s problem is that Remainers want to wound him, but fear allowing an election would give him an opportunity to force No Deal. 

Earlier, the PM met senior rebels including Mr Hammond and Mr Gauke ahead of the crucial vote.

But the discussion quickly descended into acrimony, with government sources accusing Mr Hammond of behaving ‘disrespectfully’ and ‘chuntering’.

The premier accused the former chancellor during the encounter of ‘handing power to a Junta including Jeremy Corbyn’ by backing the anti-No Deal legislation.  

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson gloated about the new addition to her ranks. ‘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,’ she wrote on Twitter. 

In a challenge to the PM, Mr Hammond was reselected in Runnymede and Weybridge by executive members of the Conservative Association at a private meeting on Monday night.

Earlier today he slammed the government’s ‘aggressive’ tactics, saying the PM will have the ‘fight of a lifetime’ if he tries to deselect him. 

‘I am going to support the Bill… I think we have the numbers,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He also launched an excoriating attack on maverick No10 Brexit chief Dominic Cummings. 

‘This is my party, I am going to defend my party against people who are at the heart of this government who care nothing about the future of the Conservative party,’ he said. 

Allies of the PM said the rest of the group were ‘civil’ and ‘respectful’ during the meeting with the PM, but Mr Hammond ‘interrupted’ and ‘chuntered’.

Mr Johnson is said to have made very clear that he ‘would not tolerate’ the Bill. Rebels have accused Mr Johnson of using the election to try and ‘purge’ Tory opponents of No Deal and turn the party into a Eurosceptic vehicle.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd yesterday warned against taking action against ‘very valued colleagues who made a very different choice’.

‘We should consider carefully the consequences of dividing the party. But I do support the PM in his commitment… to get a deal,’ she told reporters outside her London home.

To take effect the anti-No Deal legislation must clear all its Parliamentary stages and receive Royal Assent before the Houses prorogue for the party conference break – which is due to happen as early as next Monday.

In his appearance in yesterday afternoon, Mr Johnson conceded for the first time that he would be obliged to obey the law if it is passed.

‘We will of course uphold the constitution and obey the law,’ he said. 

The primary aim of the so-called European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill 2019 is to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. 

But it goes much further and demands the PM ask the EU for a Brexit delay to January 31 2020 in the event Britain and Brussels are unable to agree a new deal at an EU Council meeting on October 17.

The Bill states that if the EU does agree to the request for an extension the PM must immediately accept the offer. 

If the EU propose a different extension date the PM must accept it within two days – unless it is rejected by the House of Commons. 

The Bill does say that the UK can leave the bloc without a deal but only if MPs explicitly vote in favour of such an outcome.   

Noisy pro-EU protests were taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolded last night

Noisy pro-EU protests were taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolded last night

Noisy pro-EU protests were taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolded last night

Protesters are pictured outside Parliament last night as Boris Johnson suffered defeat in the Commons and rebel MPs took control in Westminster

Protesters are pictured outside Parliament last night as Boris Johnson suffered defeat in the Commons and rebel MPs took control in Westminster

Protesters are pictured outside Parliament last night as Boris Johnson suffered defeat in the Commons and rebel MPs took control in Westminster 

What will Boris Johnson do TODAY? Can he still call an election for October 15? Why does Labour want to delay it. The latest answers to a baffling week 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he will seek to trigger a snap general election after losing a crunch Brexit vote last night. 

That means a vote will be held today on whether to have an election on October 15, and the Prime Minister needs Labour to agree for one to be held. 

But Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to vote against holding an election until a law is passed blocking No Deal Brexit and delaying Britain’s exit from the EU. 

A debate and vote will be held from 3pm this afternoon on whether to block No Deal Brexit, before  a vote late tonight on whether to hold an election. 

But what does it all mean? 

What happens today after Boris Johnson lost control of the Commons?

Legislation put forward by the cross-party group will be debated today. It would require a delay to Brexit unless there was a deal or Parliament explicitly backed leaving the EU without one by October 19.

The snappily-titled European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill 2019 is backed by former Cabinet minsters Philip Hammond and David Gauke, a sign of how the rebel ranks have been bolstered following the change in PM.

Under the terms of the Bill, the Government must ask the EU 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 PM must accept that extension within two days, unless the House of Commons rejects it.

What will happen then?

For the Bill to become law, it must clear all stages in the Commons before heading to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

The process usually takes weeks, but it could be hurried through in as little as three days to be passed before Parliament is prorogued next week (sometime between September 9 to 12).

However this will not be straightforward: MPs could defeat the Bill, or peers could attempt to block its passage by talking it out, so-called filibustering. 

Will there be an election?

Mr Johnson said he would seek to trigger a snap general election after losing the vote.

The motion would require the support of two-thirds of MPs under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA), but Labour indicated that they would not support the move until chances of a no-deal Brexit were taken off the table.

If the motion is tabled, it is likely this will be debated today.

While Labour’s refusal to back it would limit the likelihood of Mr Johnson’s motion succeeding, other avenues remain open to the PM to push for a poll – including triggering a confidence motion in his own Government.

What happens if the Prime Minister succeeds in calling an election?

If the election motion is successful, the PM then advises the Queen on the date.

There would usually be a short sitting period – a few days – to finalise outstanding legislation (known as the ‘wash up’) before dissolution. 

Parliament dissolves 25 working days before an election date and campaigning would then begin for Britain’s third general election in four-and-a-half years.

When would we go to the polls? 

Downing Street has indicated that the poll would take place on Monday, October 14, which would end an 84-year tradition of holding British general elections on Thursdays.

However, government sources revealed last night that the following day, Tuesday, October 15, might be better to avoid a clash with a key Jewish holiday.

The first day of Succot would prevent observant Jews from voting on this day because writing is prohibited. Although they still could have voted by post or proxy.  

Boris Johnson (pictured) has promised to take Britain out by October 31 but suffered a blow last night as MPs will now have a chance to debate a Bill to block No Deal

Boris Johnson (pictured) has promised to take Britain out by October 31 but suffered a blow last night as MPs will now have a chance to debate a Bill to block No Deal

Boris Johnson (pictured) has promised to take Britain out by October 31 but suffered a blow last night as MPs will now have a chance to debate a Bill to block No Deal

What happens if Jeremy Corbyn blocks an election?

Mr Johnson would need a two-thirds majority to force an early election. That means Labour could thwart him by withholding support for the motion until their demands are met. 

Labour could also try and find a parliamentary mechanism to make blocking No Deal a condition of an election, although the FTPA demands a particular wording. 

However, blocking an election might be seen as an embarrassment for Mr Corbyn who has spent much of the last year demanding one. 

In addition, the PM might be able to get around the ploy and call an election anyway by tabling new legislation, which would only need a simple majority. 

As the FTPA has only been in place since 2011 there is little precedent for any of this.  

If Mr Corbyn blocks an election, the Bill to block No Deal will continue its progress through Parliament, at least until it is suspended next week. 

Does an election mean prorogation is wiped out? 

Yes. If an election is called, the current Parliament would be dissolved entirely and replaced by a new one, not just suspended for five weeks. Prorogation would become irrelevant. 

Will Boris Johnson still suspend Parliament?

If no election is called, yes. Parliament could be prorogued as early as Monday, based on the royal proclamation issued last month.  

If the rebel legislation has not been passed by the time of prorogation, it is automatically wiped out.

Parliament will not sit again until October 14, after the party conferences.

What happens if Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at the dispatch box) blocks an election? Mr Johnson would need a two-thirds majority to force an early election. That means Labour could thwart him by withholding support for the motion until their demands are met.

What happens if Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at the dispatch box) blocks an election? Mr Johnson would need a two-thirds majority to force an early election. That means Labour could thwart him by withholding support for the motion until their demands are met.

What happens if Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at the dispatch box) blocks an election? Mr Johnson would need a two-thirds majority to force an early election. That means Labour could thwart him by withholding support for the motion until their demands are met. 

Are there other ways the PM’s plans to prorogue could be thwarted?

The PM faces threats from many angles, with legal challenges coming in courts across the UK.

A cross-party group of MPs and peers who want to block Parliament’s suspension had a hearing of their application in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the High Court will consider a judicial review request from Gina Miller, the businesswoman who successfully challenged the Government over the triggering of the Article 50 process to start the Brexit countdown. She, too, wants to challenge Mr Johnson’s suspension of Parliament.

And in Belfast, a judicial review against the Government by a campaigner arguing that no-deal could jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process is scheduled for September 16. 

Can Remainers ask the Queen not to suspend Parliament?

No. She has already approved it as she was bound to by the constitution. 

She exercised her royal powers on the advice of her democratically accountable ministers, as is her role in Britain’s constitutional monarchy. 

What happens after Parliament is suspended?

If Parliament is suspended next week as planned, rebel MPs cannot advance their plot any further for five weeks. 

If their Bill has failed or is still pending, it will ‘die’ and have to be started again after the prorogation. 

In the meantime, Mr Johnson will push for a deal from fellow European leaders in the hope of removing the backstop from the withdrawal deal negotiated by Theresa May. 

MPs will then reconvene on October 14. First there will be a Queen’s Speech and ceremonial State Opening of Parliament. 

Rebel MPs could make a second attempt to force a delay but their time would be extremely limited and there would be no more time to schedule an election before October 31.    

Britain could go to the polls in mid-October in a crucial general election which could either allow the government to move forward with Brexit or delay proceedings even further (pro-Remain demonstrators on College Green yesterday)

Britain could go to the polls in mid-October in a crucial general election which could either allow the government to move forward with Brexit or delay proceedings even further (pro-Remain demonstrators on College Green yesterday)

Britain could go to the polls in mid-October in a crucial general election which could either allow the government to move forward with Brexit or delay proceedings even further (pro-Remain demonstrators on College Green yesterday)

Could there be a vote of no confidence?

Jeremy Corbyn has tried a no-confidence vote once already this year, when Theresa May was still PM. Mrs May won the vote by 325 to 306. 

He appeared to put his plans for another vote on the back burner last week when he agreed to work with other opposition MPs to pass No Deal legislation. 

Can the Queen refuse to allow an election? 

No. If Parliament has voted for an election – which means two-thirds of MPs will have found something to agree on – then the Queen has no constitutional authority to stand in their way. 

When will Britain leave the EU if there is no election and Remainers fail to block No Deal?

On October 31, Mr Johnson insists. If there is no election or legislation to stop him, he hopes to deliver on his repeated promises to get Britain out without a further delay. 

The PM says that Britain will leave on October 31 with or without a deal with Brussels.  

He could then seek an election at that point, to cash in on having delivered Brexit and try to win a stable majority. However, potential chaos resulting from No Deal might affect his government’s popularity. 

If there is an election before October 31, when will Britain leave the EU? 

That will depend on the election result. If Mr Johnson returns to Downing Street, especially if he wins a majority, he will see it as a public mandate to deliver Brexit on October 31 as he keeps promising to do. 

If Jeremy Corbyn becomes PM, he is likely to ask for a further delay to Brexit and make his own attempt to renegotiate with Brussels. 

He has also indicated that Labour will support a ‘public vote’ or second referendum on Brexit. This could be held next year. 

 

 

Day the PM lost his majority: Red face for Boris as MP defects as he delivers statement 

By Claire Ellicott, Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Tory MP Phillip Lee crossed the floor of the House to join the Liberal Democrats in dramatic fashion yesterday, wiping out Boris Johnson’s Commons majority.

The shock move – which Downing Street had no advance warning of – happened just hours before the Government lost the crunch Brexit vote by 328-301.

Before Dr Lee’s defection, Mr Johnson only had a working majority of one in the Commons thanks to his deal with the DUP. At a stroke, Dr Lee’s decision turned the Prime Minister’s administration into a minority government of minus one.

Dr Lee, MP for Bracknell, crossed the floor as Mr Johnson delivered a statement to MPs in the wake of the G7 summit yesterday

Dr Lee, MP for Bracknell, crossed the floor as Mr Johnson delivered a statement to MPs in the wake of the G7 summit yesterday

Dr Lee, MP for Bracknell, crossed the floor as Mr Johnson delivered a statement to MPs in the wake of the G7 summit yesterday 

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson (left) looked delighted as she sat alongside Phillip Lee (right) after he defected yesterday

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson (left) looked delighted as she sat alongside Phillip Lee (right) after he defected yesterday

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson (left) looked delighted as she sat alongside Phillip Lee (right) after he defected yesterday

Jacob Rees-Mogg takes a lie down in the Commons last night, as Anna Turley MP slammed him for 'the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament'

Jacob Rees-Mogg takes a lie down in the Commons last night, as Anna Turley MP slammed him for 'the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament'

Jacob Rees-Mogg takes a lie down in the Commons last night, as Anna Turley MP slammed him for ‘the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament’

The defection came just as Mr Johnson prepared to deliver a statement to MPs on the G7 summit, and hours before an alliance of Tory and Opposition MPs attempted to seize control of the Commons’ order paper to prevent a No Deal Brexit. 

Farage says PM must vow ‘clean break’ Brexit 

Nigel Farage today held out the prospect that the Brexit Party could line up behind Boris Johnson in an election – but only if he vows to deliver a ‘clean break’ from the EU.

The MEP said he was ready to put ‘country before party’ and ‘help in any way we can’ if a snap poll is triggered.

But he warned that the PM seemed ‘intent on reheating Theresa May‘s Withdrawal Agreement’ and that meant there was no chance of a pact. 

The intervention came after Mr Johnson pledged to call an election for October 14 if Remainers win a crunch vote last night aiming to block No Deal.

The PM said the move would ‘chop the legs off’ the goverment’s negotiating strategy, and warned he will never ask Brussels for an extension to the Halloween deadline.

But Tory success in a poll could rely on Mr Farage’s Brexit Party not splitting the Eurosceptic vote in key marginal seats. 

The former justice minister, a prominent supporter of a second EU referendum, said the Government was ‘aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways’.

‘It is putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessarily and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the UK,’ he said in a statement. 

Dr Lee, a qualified doctor, also said his decision was made after Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg behaved ‘disgrace-fully’ to a fellow doctor during a radio-phone row over whether anyone might die as a result of a No Deal Brexit.

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Lee claimed Brexit had ‘helped to transform this once great party into something more akin to a narrow faction, where an individual’s ‘conservatism’ is measured by how recklessly one wishes to leave the EU’.

Dr Lee later hinted at further defections from the Tories, telling Sky News: ‘I guess the elevation of Boris Johnson to the Prime Minister’s position has accelerated events.

‘I don’t think that everybody who’s currently siting as a Conservative is going to be sitting as a Conservative after the next election. 

‘Whether they join the Liberal Democrats or not, it’s an individual decision but I really wouldn’t be surprised if more come to this conclusion over the next few days.’

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Lee also said the Tories had ‘become infected by the twin diseases of English nationalism and populism’. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM the ‘bullying’ of MPs opposed to No Deal showed the ‘tone and culture’ of the Conservative Party had fundamentally changed, and he knew of other like-minded colleagues who were also considering their futures. Dr Lee’s decision to cross the floor was greeted with cheers on the opposition benches.

Former PM Theresa May positioned herself alongside Tory Remainer Ken Clarke for the statement yesterday and appeared to be enjoying Mr Johnson's discomfort

Former PM Theresa May positioned herself alongside Tory Remainer Ken Clarke for the statement yesterday and appeared to be enjoying Mr Johnson's discomfort

Former PM Theresa May positioned herself alongside Tory Remainer Ken Clarke for the statement yesterday and appeared to be enjoying Mr Johnson’s discomfort

But last night former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith criticised Dr Lee. ‘It looked like [Dr Lee] should be joining RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art]… The whole thing was stage-managed,’ he said.

‘It’s pretty deceitful if you move from one party to the next, when the British people voted for you and you were supported by the Conservative Party, its money and its organisation.’

The MP’s defection wipes out the Tory-DUP majority, though suspended Dover MP Charlie Elphicke is expected to vote with the Government. It also brings the number of Lib Dem MPs to 15 after his fellow former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston joined the party last month.

Former ministers Justine Greening and Alistair Burt also said yesterday that they would not seek re-election as Conservatives in the next general election, expected in weeks.

And Tory MP Keith Simpson said he was stepping aside, though said it was to do with his turning 70, rather than Brexit. Announcing her decision to stand down as a Tory MP at the next election yesterday, Miss Greening, the former education secretary, said the Prime Minister was ‘narrowing down’ the Tories’ appeal to the public.

She vowed to support a rebel bill tabled by Labour’s Hilary Benn to force Mr Johnson to seek an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Second referendum-backer Miss Greening said her fears that the Tory Party would morph into Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party had ‘come to pass’. 

The Conservative Party rebel told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the Prime Minister was offering the country a ‘lose-lose’ situation by threatening a general election.

Explosion of loathing at No10: From ex-Chancellor’s savage attack on Boris’s Brexit tactics to PM thumping Cabinet table, the incendiary row that led to Tory defeat 

Analysis by Jack Doyle for the Daily Mail 

If Boris Johnson woke up yesterday thinking the prospect of an early election, combined with his threat to deselect Tory MPs who try to thwart his Brexit plans, would cow the rebels, he was swiftly disabused of the notion yesterday morning.

At 8.10am on Radio 4’s Today Programme, Philip Hammond – 22 years a Tory MP, a former defence and foreign secretary and until a few short weeks ago Chancellor of the Exchequer – was defiant.

Not only would he vote for a Labour-backed Bill designed to stop No Deal and force Mr Johnson to ask for a three-month extension to Article 50, but he believed the rebels had the numbers to force the controversial legislation through.

Taking clear aim at Mr Johnson’s de facto chief of staff Dominic Cummings, he added: ‘I am going to defend my party against incomers, entryists, who are trying to turn it from a broad church to narrow faction.

Boris Johnson first PM to be defeated in first Commons vote in 236 years

Last night, Tory rebels handed Boris Johnson a humiliating defeat, leading one MP to shout: ‘Not a good start, Boris.’

He became the first Prime Minister to be defeated on his first Commons vote in 236 years.

King George III dismissed the government of Lord North and Charles James Fox in, who had the support of MPs in 1783.

Controversially he appointed Pitt the Younger at the end of 1783, as First Minister.

The 24-year-old managed to form a government, but was unable to pass any legislation, in a situation that mirrors the conundrum faced by Mr Johnson in the present day.

But unlike Mr Johnson, Pitt did not call for an election straight away, fearing a possible loss.

Instead he waited in government, mobilised public opinion and eroded the  opposition in the Commons by giving peerages to Fox’s MPs.

Then he called for an election early the next year, in 1784, and secured a dominant majority.

‘People who are at the heart of this Government, who are probably not even members of the Conservative Party, who care nothing about the future of the Conservative Party, I intend to defend my party against them.’

Last night’s vote set the seal on a battle that raged around the Palace of Westminster yesterday on what, it is no exaggeration to say, was one of yet another of those extraordinary and exhausting political days.

At the start of the day, the number of Tories publicly committed to rebellion was in the single figures. If Downing Street could keep the numbers down, there was at least some hope of averting defeat.

Both in public and private, No 10 aides condemned a law they called a ‘blueprint for legislative purgatory’, which would cost taxpayers £1billion a month, which was ‘very clearly in Brussels’ interests not in the British interest’. One, invoking the kind of classical allusion enjoyed by Mr Johnson, called it ‘the worst terms since Rome and the Carthaginians’.

The Romans took Carthage, killed most of the inhabitants, sold the rest into slavery and destroyed the city. Just before 10.15am, around 15 rebels entered Downing Street.

Nobody was calling them peace talks, and by the end it was clear they had only served to expose the Brexit civil war tearing the Conservative Party apart.

One attendee described it as ‘the most extraordinary meeting I have ever been in’. The rebel group included former Chancellor Philip Hammond, former justice secretary David Gauke and ex-business secretary Greg Clark – as well as a raft of former junior ministers and senior backbenchers including Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.

The meeting was held in the Cabinet room, around which many of the rebels had sat as ministers only weeks earlier.

On the Prime Minister’s left sat Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd who has urged him not to pull the trigger on the rebels but to ‘hold our party together’.

The Prime Minister began by arguing that progress was being made with the EU, and the threat of No Deal was having a real impact on Brussels.

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

If the Bill was to pass, he argued, it could result in a second referendum or even the revocation of Article 50 – the death of Brexit. And he made clear to the rebels that, yes, they really would lose the whip if they did not back down. 

From his seat in the corner, next to Mr Gauke and Michael Gove, Mr Hammond couldn’t hide his displeasure. In truth, he argued, No 10 didn’t have a negotiating strategy or even team in place.

They weren’t really trying to get a deal. Even if Mr Johnson could secure a last-ditch deal at the European Council on October 17, there wasn’t time to pass the required legislation ahead of Brexit day on October 31, he insisted.

No, Mr Johnson said, there was in fact time. What’s more, he said, there would also be time for the rebels to try again to stop No Deal after the Council.

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM yesterday. Sources said Mr Hammond had been 'disrespectful'

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM yesterday. Sources said Mr Hammond had been 'disrespectful'

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM yesterday. Sources said Mr Hammond had been ‘disrespectful’  

But Mr Hammond wasn’t listening. ‘Hammond and Boris were just refusing to listen to one another. Hammond kept talking over him, tutting and shaking his head,’ one source said. ‘Boris was doing the same.’

At one point the exasperated PM declared: ‘You all just want to keep us in the EU.’ Hammond hit back: ‘We voted for the deal three times.’ The row escalated.

PM: ‘I will not tolerate a Bill that hands over power to Corbyn.’ Hammond: ‘We are handing over power to Parliament.’ PM: ‘You are handing power over to a junta that includes Jeremy Corbyn.’

He added: ‘Extension [of Article 50] would be an extinction-level event for the Conservative Party.’ ‘Their mutual loathing was very apparent,’ a source told me.

Dominic Cummings was not present throughout the meeting, but had spoken to a group of rebels waiting outside. One later accused him of ‘hectoring’ them and starting a row, a claim denied by Government sources. ‘I’ve seen Dom argue and it was not a Dom argument’.

Dominic Cummings (pictured with Mr Johnson at Downing Street yesterday) is believed to be masterminding the Brexit strategy

Dominic Cummings (pictured with Mr Johnson at Downing Street yesterday) is believed to be masterminding the Brexit strategy

Dominic Cummings (pictured with Mr Johnson at Downing Street yesterday) is believed to be masterminding the Brexit strategy

He did, though, make one short cameo appearance in the room, described as ‘deliberate trolling’ of the rebels. ‘Dom turned up just to needle Hammond.’ (Insiders also say that while they were waiting for the meeting to start Mr Cummings had told the waiting rebel MPs: ‘I don’t know who any of you are!’)

One hour and 25 minutes after the meeting began, Mr Johnson banged the table, urged the rebels to ‘trust my position’ and the meeting was over. The PM concluded: ‘I assume everyone is with me.’ It would quickly become clear they were not. Then the briefing war began. Government sources accused Mr Hammond of having mentioned EU ‘legal advice’ in a discussion about the extension.

Had he unwittingly revealed his connivance with the enemy in Brussels? No, rebel sources insisted. A Hammond spokesman called the claim ‘ridiculous and categorically untrue’. He was simply citing the ‘established view of the EU legal service’.

No 10 was not convinced. Rebels accused Mr Johnson of offering an ‘unconvincing’ account of how he would pass a deal and providing ‘no convincing proof’ that a negotiation is even taking place.

As that meeting finished, another began in the parliamentary offices of Jeremy Corbyn where the Labour leader and other opposition parties agreed to back the Bill. No such clarity, however, on whether to back an election.

During the morning and early afternoon, the number of confirmed rebels began to tick up. Former minister Sam Gyimah and Sir Nicholas both confirmed they would be voting against the Government. Yet some still had hope.

At lunchtime, Tory chief whip Mark Spencer told junior ministers that Labour Leavers could come to the rescue, with somewhere between three and ten prepared to vote with the Government.

But by the time the Commons began sitting at 2.30pm the number of publicly declared rebels was up to 15 and several more were still making up their minds. What wasn’t expected was Tory Phillip Lee’s public defection to the Lib Dems. When Mr Johnson stood up to make his Commons statement on the G7, Dr Lee stood up and crossed the floor of the House to sit with Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and at a stroke he erased Mr Johnson’s majority.

Tory MPs were deflated. Only when Mr Johnson baited Jeremy Corbyn with accusations of ‘surrender’ did they cheer up.

Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured standing right) was surrounded by fellow Remainer rebels including Philip Hammond (front left) as he kicked off the debate last night, insisting that the 'threat' of No Deal was not a 'credible negotiating strategy'

Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured standing right) was surrounded by fellow Remainer rebels including Philip Hammond (front left) as he kicked off the debate last night, insisting that the 'threat' of No Deal was not a 'credible negotiating strategy'

Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured standing right) was surrounded by fellow Remainer rebels including Philip Hammond (front left) as he kicked off the debate last night, insisting that the ‘threat’ of No Deal was not a ‘credible negotiating strategy’

In the briefing for journalists afterwards, Mr Cummings popped up again, in the background, refusing to answer questions on whether he was a member of the Tory party. At a little after 6.30pm, it took barely a minute for leading rebel Sir Oliver Letwin to set out his unprecedented proposal to take control of the House away from the Government, and for the Speaker John Bercow to agree it should be discussed. The fix was on. The House was in uproar.

At one point, the Speaker openly mocked the Prime Minister by throwing a Brexit quote back in his face. To applause from Labour MPs he said he would ‘facilitate’ the House of Commons ‘come what may, do or die’.

Mr Hammond wasn’t finished, though. Standing in central lobby with the vote only hours away, he spoke of his ‘outrage’ that the party he has been a member of for 45 years was ‘thinking of throwing me out’.

‘Some of my colleagues have chosen to call it a day because they don’t like what’s going on. My approach is to stay and fight and I will fight for the party I joined and the party that I believe the Conservatives must be, a broad inclusive centre-Right party, for as long as I am able to do so,’ he said. Backing down? Not a chance.

 

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