Boris Johnson will flatly refuse their demand for a Brexit delay
He warned that respect for Parliament across the country had been “gravely undermined” by months of “dither, delay, procrastination and confusion”. And in a furious assault, he branded Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour MPs “yellow bellies” for blocking a general election. MPs were expected to vote to reject his demand for a snap election to break the Brexit deadlock in a Commons session into the early hours of this morning.
Parliament was due to be suspended early today after an Opposition Bill to force the Prime Minister to request a Brexit delay reached the statute book.
Ahead of last night’s vote, the Prime Minister said: “I will not ask for another delay. The public has had enough of the delectable disputations in this House and I must warn Hon Members that their conduct has gravely undermined respect for this House in the country.”
Ministers are understood to be examining how to get around the new law.
One possible plan hinted at by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, below, ignoring the law until a judicial review had been carried out.
Mr Johnson let rip at Mr Corbyn and other MPs who blocked his attempt to dissolve Parliament to end the stalemate.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
He said “dither, delay, procrastination and confusion” had become a “hallmark of the opposition” in the Commons.
He added the “only possible explanation” for opposing an election was because “they fear that I will win it and secure a renewed mandate for a course of action they disagree with”.
He said: “For the last three years, they have schemed, plotted and conspired to overturn the verdict of the British people delivered in a referendum, which in a crowning irony almost all of them voted to hold.”
Mr Johnson said that Mr Corbyn and his “cronies” had been “trying to disguise their preposterous yellow bellies by coming up with ever more outrageous excuses for delaying an election until the end of October, or perhaps November or perhaps until hell freezes over.”
Earlier in the Commons, Mr Raab gave a hint of how the Government will defy the demand to request a Brexit delay.
He said: “This Government will always respect the rule of law – that has been our clear position and frankly it is outrageous that is even in doubt.
“Of course, how the rule of law will be respected is normally straightforward.
“The Government usually gets in interpretation right, but there have been many judicial reviews down the years,” the Foreign Secretary said.
Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson would not break the law but would refuse to request a delay.
“The Government will obey the law but the Prime Minister will not be asking for an extension.
“The Prime Minister’s Government will not be extending the Article 50 process. We will be leaving on October 31,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said. Mr Johnson appeared upbeat about the chances of securing a departure deal after talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar in Dublin.
The Prime Minister said: “I have looked carefully at No Deal. Yes, we could do it, the UK could certainly get through it, but be in no doubt that outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible. I would overwhelmingly prefer to find an agreement. I do believe that a deal can be done by October 18 so let’s do it together.”
Officials on both sides described the meeting between the pair as “positive and constructive”.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
DUP leader Arlene Foster said she has been “encouraged” by Boris Johnson’s commitment to getting “a sensible deal”.
Speaking after the meeting in Dublin, Mrs Foster said: “The Prime Minister has already ruled out a Northern Ireland-only backstop because it would be anti-democratic, unconstitutional and would mean our core industries would be subject to EU rules without any means of changing them.
“We will continue to work with the Government… to encourage efforts towards a sensible deal.”
Remainer MPs last night successfully used an emergency Commons motion to order the Government to publish communications connected to prorogation and no-deal Brexit planning.
Dominic Grieve and fellow Remainer Anna Soubry
MPs voted by 311 to 302 to back a call from former Tory minister Dominic Grieve’s for all written and electronic messages about the temporary suspension of Parliament and documents detailing Operation Yellowhammer preparations.
Mr Grieve, now sitting as an independent MP, said public officials had given him information relating to prorogation that informed him “they believed the handling of this matter smacked of scandal”.
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