PM urged to become ‘Brexit martyr’ after suggesting he could break law
Boris Johnson is urged to become a ‘Brexit martyr’ after suggesting he could break the law to force No Deal: PM writes to Tory members declaring he will never ask for an extension as rumours swirl he could quit
- The PM wrote to Tory members last night saying he will never beg Brussels
- Iain Duncan Smith told Mr Johnson to hold fast and become a Brexit martyr
- It comes as senior Tories have claimed Mr Johnson’s strategy lies in tatters
- Top cabinet ministers urged Mr Johnson, expelled rebels needed a way back in
- As he meets the Queen at Balmoral, sensational rumours swirl of resignation
- Daily Mail poll shows the public back a No Deal exit over Jeremy Corbyn for PM
- But smaller parties believe they have the PM snared after refusing his election
- They will vote down or abstain the PM’s motion calling for an election Monday
Boris Johnson has been urged to become a ‘Brexit martyr’ after suggesting he could break the law to force No Deal, as he wrote to Tory members last night saying he would never beg to Brussels.
The Prime Minister said he was only bound ‘in theory’ by a law which is expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday, taking a No Deal Brexit off the table.
Tory grandee Iain Duncan Smith encouraged Mr Johnson, saying he would be ‘martyred’ if he chose to break the law and risk a possible prison sentence for contempt of Parliament.
Mr Duncan Smith told The Telegraph: ‘This is about Parliament versus the people. Boris Johnson is on the side of the people, who voted to leave the EU.
‘The people are sovereign because they elect Parliament. But Parliament wants to stop the will of the people.’
If Mr Johnson fails to carry out the will of Parliament, he risks being taken to court and, if a judge ordered him to obey Parliament, he could be held in contempt and even jailed for refusing, the paper reported.
Here are the latest Brexit developments:
- A bill to delay Brexit is expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday, tying the Prime Minister’s hands.
- Mr Johnson wrote to Tory members last night, saying: ‘They just passed a law that would force me to beg Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. This is something I will never do.’
- Mr Duncan Smith encouraged the Prime Minister’s steadfast resolve, as senior Tories and even Cabinet ministers advised him to row back.
- The executive of the 1922 Committee, the so-called Men in Grey Suits, told Chief Whip Mark Spencer that ‘a way back’ was required for the 21 Tory rebels who were exiled this week, the Evening Standard reported.
- Opposition parties believe they have successfully backed Mr Johnson into a corner on his pledge to leave on October 31 ‘do or die.’
- They will vote down or abstain when the Prime Minister tables another general election bid on Monday.
- The Prime Minister has been forced down two alleys: resign or quit. He will resign if he has to make that choice, according to the Spectator’s Political Editor, James Forsyth.
- A Daily Mail poll shows the public still favour a No Deal withdrawal from the EU as opposed to having Jeremy Corbyn as their premier.
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds were spotted leaving an Aberdeen hotel yesterday as they headed to Balmoral for an audience with the Queen. The PM and his partner are due to stay overnight before heading back to London amid Brexit turmoil
Britain’s opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London (left) and Tory grandee Iain Duncan Smith (right) is urging the PM to become a Brexit martyr
Earlier yesterday Mr Johnson said he would not entertain seeking another deadline extension from Brussels, as the incoming law compels him to do if no agreement is in place by October 19.
Asked if he would obey the new law’s demand for him to write to EU leaders requesting more time, Mr Johnson said: ‘I will not. I don’t want a delay.’
Other ministers are said to take a different approach, however, and think it is time for Mr Johnson to reconcile with the 21 rebels he sacked this week after they rebelled against him.
The Times reported that senior Government figures want Mr Johnson to ‘come up with a plan B’ and distance himself from Tory Eurosceptics after he was boxed in by the Opposition.
The new law blocking No Deal will rule out an early election before the European Council summit on October 17 as Labour and other opposition parties want the threat of leaving the EU on Halloween to have expired before agreeing to a fresh poll.
Mr Johnson gestures as he is shown around Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen in Scotland on Friday
Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru met on Friday and agreed to block the PM’s election request when it is put to the House of Commons again on Monday.
A similar motion was defeated by MPs on Wednesday, failing to make the two-thirds threshold needed to dissolve Parliament.
‘Boris needs to make peace with the Tory rebels and get serious about making a deal with Brussels, even if that means throwing the Spartans [hardline Brexiteers] under a bus,’ one Cabinet minister told The Times.
‘Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s senior adviser, may be very clever but his plan has failed. We now need a plan B.’
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, was scathing about Mr Corbyn’s decision to block an election.
Writing in The Telegraph, she said the Labour leader was showing ‘disdain for democracy’ and causing ‘bewilderment and anger’ among voters, while accusing him of blocking a vote because he thinks the public ‘can’t be trusted to decide’.
But Mr Johnson could be set to use the election manoeuvring to his advantage by quitting Number 10 in order to hand power to Mr Corbyn, forcing him to call for a Brexit delay and face the backlash from leave voters at the next election.
Mr Johnson made the traditional prime ministerial trip to the Queen’s Balmoral estate after visiting Aberdeenshire on Friday. But the visit will be shorter than expected due to the political turmoil in Westminster.
The PM, accompanied by partner Carrie Symonds, 31, stayed at the castle on Friday night before their return to London on Saturday.
Events continued to be rocky for the PM as more senior Tory MPs announced they would be quitting Westminster.
Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill and one of the 21 Tory rebels to have the whip removed on Mr Johnson’s orders, accused the PM of turning the Conservative party into a ‘Brexit sect’ and told The Times he was ‘nothing like’ his wartime leader grandfather.
Protests are scheduled across the country over the weekend against Mr Johnson’s leadership and Brexit strategy, with demonstrations in London on Saturday.
Yesterday Mr Johnson said he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than delay the UK’s departure from the bloc.
If he were to resign, the Queen would ask MPs if anyone else could form a government capable of commanding a majority in the Commons and if the answer was no there would have to be an election. The law would still dictate that a Brexit delay must be sought, with a poll likely to then be held in November.
MPs return to Parliament for the Queen’s speech on October 14 and Remainers have the numbers to oust Johnson in a vote of no confidence if he indicates he will refuse to delay Brexit.
It came as Mr Corbyn and the other leaders of the ‘Rebel Alliance’ agreed to combine forces to stop Mr Johnson forcing an early general election on Monday.
The Prime Minister will need the support of two thirds of the House of Commons to succeed but with the opposition now all on the same page his attempt at triggering a snap poll appears doomed to failure.
That could leave the PM stuck in Number 10 but unable to deliver a No Deal Brexit on October 31 and he could be forced to resign rather than break his ‘do or die’ pledge.
Mr Johnson yesterday declined to rule out resigning if he fails to deliver Brexit by the current deadline as he embarked on a visit to Scotland.
He said: ‘That is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate. I want us to get this thing done.’
Downing Street is believed to be considering a fall-back option if the bid on Monday fails which would see it introduce a new, very short piece of legislation calling for an election and setting a date.
Such a course of action would enable the government to skirt the two thirds majority rule set out in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act with a simple majority enough to get it through.
Mr Johnson had earlier spent time at the Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen as he tried to forget about his political week from hell but suffered a fresh calamity as the bull he was leading on a rope bumped into a plain clothes police officer
An ICM Research poll showed Boris Johnson could win an election and secure a majority if it is held before October 31, left. But if he is made to wait until after October 31, and Brexit is delayed, Mr Johnson could see support for the Tories dip nine per cent
But it would be a risky move because the draft law would be amendable so rebel MPs could hijack it and set their own poll date for after October 31.
Mr Johnson’s comments came as he suffered another photo call calamity when a bull he was leading on a rope overpowered him at a farm in Aberdeenshire and charged into a plain clothes police officer.
Mr Johnson’s Brexit difficulties were yesterday illustrated in a new poll by ICM which puts the Tories at 37 per cent and Labour trailing on 30 per cent – a large enough lead to potentially give the Conservatives a majority – when people were asked how they would vote at a snap election before Halloween.
But Tory support dipped to 28 per cent – tied with Labour – when people were asked how they would vote in an election held after the current departure date.
Much of the lost Tory support in the second scenario appears to jump to the Brexit Party and the new numbers are likely to intensify calls for Mr Johnson to strike an electoral pact with Nigel Farage.
Mr Farage has said he will only consider an alliance with the PM if he agrees to pursue a ‘clean break’ No Deal Brexit from the EU on October 31.
Mr Johnson will be joined at Balmoral by his girlfriend Carrie Symonds who was pictured arriving at Aberdeen Airport this afternoon
A rebel anti-No Deal law is expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday after peers agreed to its passage on Friday.
It will require the PM to seek a Brexit delay beyond October 31 if Britain and Brussels have not struck an agreement in the run up to Halloween.
Opposition parties plan to withhold their support for a snap poll until a delay has actually been agreed with the EU, likely at a European Council meeting on October 17, potentially putting the UK on course for a nationwide vote in November.
Could Boris Johnson break the law to deliver a No Deal Brexit?
Boris Johnson has said that he will not ask the EU for a Brexit delay in any circumstances.
But when anti-No Deal legislation makes it onto the statute book on Monday he will be legally required to ask Brussels to push back the departure date by October 19 – a few days before his October 31 do or die deadline.
Many people believe that Mr Johnson will quit rather than break his ‘do or die’ Brexit pledge.
But if he does try to stay in Downing Street and also stick to his Brexit promise he will be on course to break the law – an unthinkable prospect for any prime minister.
Any attempt to not comply with what Parliament has said must happen would spark the mother of all political rows and almost certainly ignite legal challenges.
Ultimately, MPs do have the power to oust Mr Johnson in such circumstances by calling and winning a vote of no confidence after MPs return to Parliament on October 14.
That would allow Remainer MPs the chance to form a temporary government and send their own representative to Brussels to seek an extension before likely triggering an election.
However, before that point Number 10 could try to find a work around.
For example, there has been speculation in Westminster that Mr Johnson could refuse to go to Brussels himself but send somebody else in his place.
This would be politically poisonous because it would still represent the ‘do or die’ promise being broken and set the Tories up to be eaten alive by the Brexit Party.
If sending a Cabinet colleague was too difficult politically, it has been suggested that a senior civil servant could be sent to fulfill the requirements of the law on the grounds that the PM was unwilling to do it.
But again, such an approach would still tarnish Mr Johnson’s Brexit credentials.
Downing Street could also try to advance a legal argument against fulfilling the terms of the legislation on the grounds that talks with the EU were ongoing and that efforts should be concentrated on striking a deal.
Such an argument is unlikely to hold much weight in a court of law.
Ultimately if the PM breaks the law there will be consequences which is why a resignation appears more likely.
Monday’s vote will be the government’s second attempt at forcing an early election after the PM’s first try failed this week.
But with Labour, the SNP and other opposition parties now in agreement that they will not support a poll before the end of October at the earliest, Mr Johnson is likely to be scuppered.
The set back to Mr Johnson’s hopes of forcing an early election came as he signalled there could be a path back to the Conservative Party for the 21 rebels he stripped of the whip this week after they voted to block No Deal.
Speaking in Scotland, he told reporters: ‘Yes of course I’m going to reach out to those colleagues and have been reaching out to them to try and find ways of building bridges but I’ve got to be clear we must get Brexit done and that’s my message to my colleagues.’
Separately, the High Court rejected a legal challenge which sought to overturn Mr Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament until October 14. Parliament is due to be prorogued at some point next week.
However the case brought by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller and backed by Sir John Major and Labour could still be taken to the Supreme Court for an appeal.
Mr Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit ‘do or die’ and with or without a deal on October 31 and has repeatedly said he will not in any circumstances ask Brussels for an extension.
But if MPs block an election again and a No Deal split becomes impossible, Mr Johnson may have no other choice but to quit.
Mr Johnson will be hoping his visit with the monarch this evening will help him forget about a difficult day yesterday.
His brother Jo quit the Cabinet, he was heckled by members of the public and he prompted controversy for using a wall of police officers as the backdrop for what critics labelled a ‘political stunt’ speech.
Separately, Mr Johnson was facing growing pressure to restore the whip to 21 Remainer rebels as ex-Cabinet minister Sir Michael Fallon said there should be ‘some kind of appeal mechanism’.
The PM failed in a bid earlier this week to force an early election as Mr Corbyn and other opposition leaders failed to back the move.
Mr Johnson tabled a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which requires the support of two thirds of MPs in order for a poll to be called.
But he fell far short of the magic number of 434 MPs as Labour and other parties abstained.
Mr Johnson responded to the set back by telling opposition MPs to reflect over the weekend on his claim that the current stalemate in Parliament is ‘unsustainable’.
Yesterday Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, confirmed the government will try again on Monday and hold a repeat vote on forcing an election.
Mr Corbyn had said that once an anti-No Deal bill has become law he would back an election.
But opposition leaders have now agreed to try to trap Mr Johnson in Downing Street for all of October and force him to choose between breaking his ‘do or die’ promise and resigning.
Mr Corbyn and the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford held secret talks yesterday when they agreed not to allow an election to be held before October 19.
Their agreement was then backed by other opposition leaders on Friday as the Remain Alliance flexed its muscles.
Monday: Boris tries to call an election
Block No Deal bill becomes law
Tuesday: Parliament suspended
October 15: Parliament returns
October 19: Law compels PM to ask for a Brexit delay if no deal is done
October 31: Boris’s Brexit deadline
November: Labour’s favoured month for an election
January: New Brexit date if leaving the EU is dleayed
A Lib Dem spokeswoman confirmed opposition parties would work together to abstain or vote against the government on Monday.
She said: ‘We were all clear we are not going to let Boris Johnson cut and run. The Liberal Democrat position for a while now is that we won’t vote for a general election until we have an extension agreed with the EU. I think the others are coming round to that. As a group we will all vote against or abstain on Monday.’
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts also confirmed the move, telling the BBC: ‘We were in unity in our opinion, our priority is of course to stop a No Deal Brexit.
‘In the short time we need to make sure that we get past the 31st October and an extension to Article 50.
‘Now in that respect we were in agreement that the Prime Minister is on the run. Boris is broken.
‘We have an opportunity to bring down Boris, to break Boris and to bring down Brexit, and we must take that.’
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said Labour would block an early election until the party is ‘absolutely sure’ that the UK cannot crash out of the EU without a deal on October 31.
A Labour Party spokesman said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn hosted a positive conference call with other opposition party leaders this morning.
New poll came amid growing anger over PM’s speech in front of police in Yorkshire on Thursday. Senior police figures have called on Mr Johnson to apologise for using the officers as the backdrop to a ‘political speech’
‘They discussed advancing efforts to prevent a damaging no-deal Brexit and hold a general election once that is secured.’
Paul Scully, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, said: ‘This week Jeremy Corbyn has voted for the British government to surrender its negotiating position and delay yet again.
‘Now he’s broken his promise to the people to hold an election and is stopping the voters deciding who goes to Brussels on 17 October to negotiate.
Rachel Johnson delivers fresh sibling set back to brother Boris
Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel said her brother is the only member of the family who ‘thinks that Brexit is a good idea’ as the Prime Minister suffered another sibling set back.
The PM was dealt a major body blow on Thursday as his brother Jo resigned from the government and said he could not square ‘family loyalty and the national interest’ over Brexit.
Now the premier’s sister has revealed that he is ‘outnumbered’ around the family dinner table over whether the UK should leave the EU and that they can no longer discuss the issue.
Ms Johnson said she often sent her brother text messages to urge him to ‘climb down’ over his ‘do or die’ Brexit pledge but that her pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Labour are blocking this country from moving on and refuse to be held to account for it.’
The opposition thinking is that by delaying an election until November, Mr Johnson will be forced to seek an extension – as required by law – if he wants to remain in Downing Street.
Such an outcome would likely lead to Mr Johnson and the Tories being eaten alive by Mr Farage and the Brexit Party.
Friday’s poll by ICM Research appears to confirm that Mr Johnson will be in enormous trouble politically if he does backtrack on his Brexit promise – something he is adamant he will not do.
Westminster voting intention for an election before October 31 put the Tories on 37 per cent, Labour on 30 per cent and the Brexit Party on just nine per cent.
But for an election after October 31 the Tories were on 28 per cent and so were Labour while the Brexit Party were on 18 per cent.
Mr Johnson suffered a difficult day on Thursday as his political week went from bad to worse.
His brother Jo blindsided Number 10 by announcing his resignation from the Cabinet despite a late night phone call from the PM urging him not to quit.
Jo Johnson dealt his sibling a major body blow as he said he could not square ‘family loyalty and the national interest’ over Brexit.
The PM then tried to put a brave face on his brother’s bombshell decision as he praised Jo as a ‘fantastic guy’ and a ‘brilliant minister’.
He tried to downplay the significance of his brother’s departure as he told reporters following a speech in Yorkshire that the pair disagreed on Brexit – just like many other families across the UK.
Dominic Cummings, pictured leaving his London home on Friday, he is accused of orchestrating the ruthless dismissal of party members
Jo Johnson said this morning that he wished his brother ‘all the best’ and insisted he wanted ‘this government to succeed in what it is doing’.
The PM’s address to the nation sparked controversy as he stood in front of a wall of police officers and repeatedly attacked Mr Corbyn.
Labour accused the PM of a ‘completely unacceptable political stunt’ while senior police figures said Mr Johnson should apologise for using officers for what critics described as a ‘Donald Trump-style photo op’.
John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, led the criticism of the premier as he said he was ‘surprised’ that officers had been used ‘for a political speech’.
Emily Thornberry confirms Labour will block election vote on Monday
Emily Thornberry on Friday confirmed Labour will block Boris Johnson’s attempt on Monday to force an early general election.
The shadow foreign secretary said Labour needed to be ‘absolutely sure’ that the UK will not crash out of the EU without a deal before it backs a snap poll.
Her comments suggest Labour will wait until a Brexit delay has been agreed with the EU to stop a chaotic split on October 31 before giving the PM the support he needs to go to the country early.
She told BBC Radio 4’s on Friday programme that while the offer of an early election was ‘extremely attractive’ the ‘immediate crisis in front of us… has to be sorted before we do anything else’.
‘Unfortunately, given the behaviour of the Prime Minister and his advisers, we need to be absolutely sure that we are not going to end up in a situation where the general election is used as a distraction while they, by some cunning wheeze, bounce us out of the European Union without a deal,’ she said.
He told The Times: ‘I am sure that on reflection all concerned will agree that this was the wrong decision and it is disappointing that the focus has been taken away from the recruitment of 20,000 officers.’
Yvette Cooper, Labour the chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee and Yorkshire MP, said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ for Number 10 to have drafted in the officers.
‘This is an abuse of power by Boris Johnson, making so many police stop their training and work to be part of his political stunt,’ she said.
‘They have a job to do here in West Yorks, and they train and work hard for the whole community – completely unacceptable to use them in this way.’
Mr Johnson was then reprimanded by a member of the public as he met voters in Leeds.
The PM appeared lost for words as he was told by a man that he should be in Brussels negotiating Brexit.
Mr Johnson was accosted by the man who yelled: ‘You should be in Brussels negotiating. You are not. You are in Morley in Leeds.’
The Prime Minister attempted to explain he had been negotiating, but the disgruntled man continued: ‘You’re playing games.’
Mr Johnson retorted: ‘What I think people want us to do, is to leave the European Union on October 31.’
Footage then emerged of another member of the public shaking hands with Mr Johnson and telling him: ‘Please leave my town.’
Meanwhile, the PM faced growing pressure to reverse his decision to expel 21 Tory Remainer rebels after they backed a bid to block a No Deal Brexit.
The decision to strip the whip from the rebels has prompted widespread anger on the Tory backbenches with many MPs blaming Dominic Cummings, the PM’s top adviser, for the hardline approach to discipline.
Arch-Remainer Gina Miller LOSES her bid to scupper Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament
Pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller has lost her legal bid to scupper Boris Johnson’s planned suspension of Parliament.
Mrs Miller, who is backed by former PM John Major, had urged London’s High Court to rule that Mr Johnson’s advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was an ‘unlawful abuse of power’.
But three of the country’s top judges on Friday rejected the case, meaning the suspension of Parliament, planned to start next week, can go ahead.
The court win is a victory for Boris Johnson, but with his plans for Britain to leave the EU by the end of October now shrouded in uncertainty, it is unlikely the Prime Minister will be celebrating.
Mr Cummings was accused of overseeing a ‘Stalinist-style purge’ of the Conservative Party as numerous figures called for the rebels to be allowed to return to the Tories.
This morning, Sir Michael, the former defence secretary, said there should be a way back for the rebels.
He told the BBC: ‘I would hope there would be some kind of appeal mechanism that they can find now so they get the chance to state their case.’
Sir Michael, who has said he will stand down at the next election, added: ‘I also worry that it sends the wrong message to Remainers – particularly in my party.
‘I think, by definition, some five million Conservatives must have voted Remain and we have got to be very careful not to drive them into the hands of Remainer parties like the Liberal Democrats in England or the Scottish nationalists in Scotland.’
Conservative former minister Claire Perry yesterday became the latest Tory MP to announce her intention to quit at the next election.
Sir John Major last night took aim at Downing Street’s approach as he accused Mr Johnson of presiding over an unelected ‘faction of a faction’.
The former Tory PM accused Mr Johnson of running a ‘Government by bluster and threat in a climate of aggressive bullying’ and turning the Conservatives into a ‘mean-minded sect’.
Fury of forgotten voters: Almost half back Boris Johnson on early election and most want No-Deal rather than Jeremy Corbyn, poll shows – as rumours swirl PM could quit after Labour ‘stitch up’ scuppers his plans
The British public are utterly frustrated with politicians, a poll for the Daily Mail has found.
Three-quarters of those questioned said the political class had failed to function effectively and were not serving the interests of the country.
The survey found that almost half want an early election and that MPs should not have blocked one in a Commons vote on Wednesday, while less than a third do not.
Boris Johnson remains the most popular choice for prime minister, with a 20-point lead over Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who came in behind those who gave the answer ‘don’t know’.
However, there was speculation in Westminster last night that Mr Johnson could even tactically quit to let Mr Corbyn or another political rival enter Downing Street. They would be expected to request a Brexit extension before calling an election.
But asked whether he might resign instead, Mr Johnson said: ‘That is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate. I want us to get this thing done.’
The Prime Minister’s opponents claimed they had him boxed in and on the run.
Yet given the choice between a No Deal Brexit and accepting the Labour leader in No 10, our poll found those questioned overwhelmingly chose the former.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Darnford Farm in Darnford, Banchory near Aberdeen, Scotland on Friday
From meeting Queen to a new PM, what happens if Boris quits?
The backbench bill outlawing No Deal becomes law on Monday when it receives Royal Assent.
In theory, if Mr Johnson decides to quit rather than delay Brexit, he will go to Buckingham Palace and resign to the Queen.
Her Majesty decides who is best placed to command the confidence of the Commons, and is expected to take advice from the outgoing PM.
Crucially, the Queen must not be dragged into the political arena – so Buckingham Palace would expect politicians to work out Mr Johnson’s successor.
Dr Hannah White, from the Institute for Government, said: ‘If [Boris Johnson] is making a recommendation to the Queen it will be his responsibility to have taken soundings in order to be clear that it is going to work.’
Mr Johnson would be deeply reluctant to recommend Jeremy Corbyn as PM but he would have some claim. MPs could coalesce around a so-called government of national unity made up of opposition parties, under an MP who was not a party leader.
Since this would also require the support of anti-No Deal Tory rebels kicked out the party this week, some have suggested former Chancellor Ken Clarke.
The new PM would come in, kiss hands with Her Majesty, then, in theory, extend Article 50 as the ‘No Deal law’ would require.
Then, again in theory, he or she would resign soon afterwards to allow for an election.
In addition, more people agreed with Mr Johnson’s decision to expel 21 Tory MPs who voted with Labour against a No Deal Brexit this week.
In a surprise result, Mr Johnson was found to be more trusted on the NHS than Mr Corbyn, despite the health service traditionally seen as the preserve of Labour.
Numbers aside, a ‘stitch-up’ between Mr Corbyn and Remain parties last night scuppered Boris Johnson’s bid for a snap election.
Labour, the Lib Dems and Scots and Welsh nationalists have agreed to block the public going to the polls before October 31.
It leaves the Prime Minister in limbo, forced to choose between resigning or defying a law passed by MPs ruling out a No Deal Brexit. He has emphatically ruled out further delay.
Following a torrid week in which he lost a string of Commons votes, lost his majority and saw his own brother quit as a minister, Mr Johnson struck a defiant note yesterday and hinted he could defy the anti No Deal law.
Asked about the possibility of asking the EU for an extension, he replied: ‘I will not. I don’t want a delay.’
Although he remains more popular than Mr Corbyn, there has been a sharp increase in the proportion believing he is doing a worse job than they would have expected.
The Conservative lead in the polls has also fallen to just five points. They are now on 29 per cent (down two points), Labour on 24 per cent (no change) and the Liberal Democrats on 18 per cent. The Brexit Party has had a boost, rising three points to 17 per cent.
According to the Electoral Calculus website, a general election would leave the Conservatives 14 seats short of a majority. The Tories are forecast to win 312 seats – down six – while Labour would be on 218 – down 44. The Lib Dems would gain 36 seats to give them a tally of 48, and the Brexit Party would pick up 15 seats.
Mr Johnson spent some of Friday at the Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen as he tried to forget about his political week from hell but suffered a fresh calamity as the bull he was leading on a rope bumped into a plain clothes police office
The poll was carried out by Survation, which questioned 1,006 people on Thursday and yesterday.
Asked whether Britain’s political class are functioning effectively and serving the interests of the country, just 13 per cent agreed. An astonishing 75 per cent said the political class was not functioning effectively, while 12 per cent said they did not know.
Asked whether they wanted an election, 48 per cent said they did and 31 per cent said they did not. The rest said that they did not know. More people said they opposed the MPs’ vote to block Mr Johnson from calling an election, by 43 per cent to 35 per cent.
Earlier, the Prime Minister had kicked off his visit to Scotland with a tour of the Peterhead Fish Market
However, voters prefer that an election takes place after negotiations with the EU are completed by 43 per cent to 36 per cent.
Where’s your pluck, Jeremy? Tory ad attacks ‘chicken’ leader
The Conservative Party tweeted this photo of Jeremy Corbyn dressed as a chicken, calling him a ‘totally spineless chicken’
With feathers flying over Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to block a general election, the Tory Party tweeted an image of the leader mocked up as a chicken.
Boris Johnson had branded him a ‘gigantic chlorinated chicken’. In a nod to KFC, the party created JFC – Totally Spineless Chicken.
The stunt ran foul of KFC who replied: ‘This is KFC not LBC’ – the talk radio station.
Mr Johnson came out top when asked who made the best prime minister. Some 46 per cent opted for Mr Johnson, compared with 26 per cent for Mr Corbyn. He is more trusted on the economy, crime, the NHS and education. On the NHS, the lead is 35 per cent to 30 per cent for the Labour leader.
When voters were asked a separate question including Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, the figures were 44 per cent for Mr Johnson, 19 per cent Mr Corbyn, 16 per cent Miss Swinson and 21 per cent ‘don’t know’.
Asked to choose between two options – a No Deal Brexit and Mr Corbyn entering Downing Street – voters chose the former by 52 per cent to 31 per cent. However, when asked whether they were in favour of a No Deal exit, just 22 per cent said it was their preferred outcome.
Some 37 per cent said they wanted to remain in the EU, compared to 32 per cent saying Britain should leave without a deal.
Overall, however, a separate question found the voters opted 53 per cent for Remain and 47 per cent for Leave.
Asked how they rated the performance of Mr Johnson as PM, 37 per cent said ‘good’ (down four points) and 40 per cent said bad (up five). The rest said neither good nor bad, or said they did not know. Asked whether that was better or worse than they expected, 32 per cent said better (down eight), 33 per cent said worse (up 11), while the rest said neither or don’t know.
Mr Johnson received support for Wednesday’s expulsion of 21 Tory MPs from the party, including Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond.
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds were spotted leaving an Aberdeen hotel this afternoon as they headed to Balmoral for an audience with the Queen. The PM and his partner are due to stay overnight.
Mr Johnson will be joined at Balmoral by his girlfriend Carrie Symonds who was pictured arriving at Aberdeen Airport this afternoon
They had voted for a Bill blocking No Deal by forcing the PM to go to Brussels to ask for an extension to Brexit.
Some 43 per cent said they approved of the expulsions, compared with 32 per cent who were against. However, voters were split down the middle on whether they supported the No Deal Bill – 37 per cent backed it while 37 per cent opposed it.
In other developments:
- It emerged that a Conservative candidate will stand against Speaker John Bercow at the next election;
- Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry was mocked after claiming the party would push for a better Brexit deal but campaign against it in a second referendum;
- A legal case against the suspension of Parliament led by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller failed in the High Court;
- The 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs wrote to chief whip Mark Spencer to demand a ‘way back’ for the 21 anti-No Deal Tories purged this week;
- Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames, who was one of the rebels, said the PM was ‘nothing like’ the wartime leader he so admired;
- It was revealed that Mr Johnson described David Cameron as a ‘girly swot’ on an official Cabinet paper.
The note (pictured above) highlights Mr Johnson’s opinion of former Conservative leader David Cameron
Pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller lost her legal bid to scupper Boris Johnson’s planned suspension of Parliament. Remainer Gina Miller has vowed to fight on in her bid to stop the suspension of Parliament
There was growing disquiet among Cabinet ministers last night over the apparent failure of the Brexit strategy conceived by the Prime Minister’s chief aide Dominic Cummings. Rebel Tories who were stripped of the whip this week for backing the law believe Mr Johnson will be forced to quit.
The No Deal legislation, which is expected to secure Royal Assent on Monday, says the Prime Minister must seek an extension unless he can secure a deal that MPs then vote for by the October 31 deadline.
Cameron? He’s just a girly swot, wrote PM
Boris Johnson described David Cameron as a ‘girly swot’ on an official Cabinet paper.
A document released this week during a legal challenge of the PM’s decision to suspend Parliament showed he described the whole September session as a ‘rigmarole’. The handwritten note from Mr Johnson dated August 16 was partially redacted, but an unredacted version obtained by Sky News reads: ‘The whole September session is a rigmarole introduced by girly swot Cameron (to) show the public that MPs are earning their crust.’
Mr Johnson also called Mr Cameron a ‘girly swot’ in 2013 for getting a first-class degree at Oxford, a grade higher than the Prime Minister.
‘If the law says he has got to secure an extension then if he is going to stay as PM he has to comply with the law,’ said one former Cabinet minister.
‘So the implication of that is he is going to resign. By ‘die in a ditch’ is he threatening to resign or is he going to commit contempt of court?’
After a morning conference call, Labour, SNP, Lib Dem and Plaid Cymru leaders yesterday agreed they will on Monday abstain or vote against a new motion calling for an early election.
It appeared to deal a terminal blow to Mr Johnson’s calls for a poll on October 15 to break the deadlock.
Speaking on a visit to Aberdeenshire yesterday, he stuck by his insistence that Brexit can happen on Halloween. ‘I think we can get out of the EU on October 31,’ he said.
‘I must say I am perplexed by the decision of the leader of the Opposition and by the SNP to run away from an election. I’ve never known an opposition in the history of democracy that’s refused to have an election.’
The PM said he would go to an EU Council summit on October 17 and get a deal.
In a noticeable softening of his approach, Mr Johnson said he would try to find a way to ‘build bridges’ with the 21 Conservative MPs who were booted out of the party earlier this week.Miss Thornberry said an election was ‘extremely attractive’ but the ‘immediate crisis in front of us had to be sorted’ and Mr Johnson could not be trusted to abide by the law.
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