Opposition parties will not back Boris Johnson’s attempt to force election

Support us and go ad-free

Boris Johnson’s demand for a general election on his own terms became increasingly far-fetched when opposition leaders agreed to not vote with the prime minister during his fresh bid.

Jeremy Corbyn spoke with the leaders of the main opposition parties on Friday to discuss their resistance to holding a vote before the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October is eliminated.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are all understood to be planning on voting against or abstaining from the Fixed-Term Parliament Act when it returns to the Commons on Monday.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn spoke with opposition leaders (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Opposition leaders including the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson, the SNP’s Ian Blackford and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts discussed tactics on Friday morning as Johnson returned to the campaign trail of the election he is yet to successfully trigger.

SNP Westminster leader Blackford said he was “desperate for an election”, but it could not be until an extension to Article 50 was secured.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

He told the PA news agency: “It’s not just about our own party interests, it’s about our collective national interests.

“So we are prepared to work with others to make sure we get the timing right, but the timing right on the basis of securing that extension to Article 50.”

But he did anticipate that an election would be successfully called “over the course of these weeks”.

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: “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.”

Saville Roberts said voting for an election next week would “play into Boris Johnson’s hands”, giving the PM the opportunity to ignore Parliament and force through a no-deal.

“We were in unity in our opinion, our priority is of course to stop a no-deal Brexit,” she told the BBC.

“In the short time we need to make sure that we get past the October 31 and an extension to Article 50.

“We have an opportunity to bring down Boris, to break Boris and to bring down Brexit, and we must take that.”

Labour said the leaders discussed efforts to prevent a “damaging” no-deal Brexit and to hold an election “once that is secured”.

The development came a day after the PM suffered a torrid day in which his brother resigned from government while describing being torn between family and “the national interest”.

The PM has said he wants polling day to be 15 October, but in order to call the snap election he needs a two-thirds majority in the Commons and opposition parties do not trust him to stick to that date.

They also have concerns about whether he will comply with the cross-party legislation due to be passed by the House of Lords on Friday which would require him to seek a delay to Brexit if there is not a deal in place by 19 October.

Boris Johnson
The PM was under heavy fire for using police as a backdrop to a political speech (Danny Lawson/PA)

Johnson used a rambling press conference on Thursday to say he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for a further delay.

On Friday, during his visit to Scotland, he declined to rule out resigning if he fails to deliver Brexit on the current deadline.

“That is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate. I want us to get this thing done,” Johnson said.

The PM’s problems further piled up when West Yorkshire Police’s chief constable said he was “disappointed” to see officers used as a backdrop to Johnson’s political speech a day earlier.

John Robins added that the force had “no prior knowledge” that officers would be used in any other way than to discuss the Government’s policing recruitment drive.

Johnson used his visit to Aberdeenshire to announce that Scottish farmers will receive an extra £51.4 million over the next two years, in addition to the £160 million announced in Wednesday’s spending round.

He was also scheduled to make the traditional prime ministerial trip to the Queen’s Balmoral estate on Friday, but the visit will be shorter than expected due to the political turmoil in Westminster.

The PM will stay at the castle on Friday night before returning to London on Saturday.

His girlfriend Carrie Symonds is expected to accompany him on the Balmoral trip.

There were also further signs of unease within the Tory ranks about the uncompromising Brexit stance which saw Johnson boot 21 senior Conservatives – including former chancellors Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond – out of the party in the Commons by removing the whip.

Former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, who is standing down as Tory MP in Sevenoaks, said he hoped an appeal mechanism would be put in place for his former colleagues.

He added: “I also worry that it sends the wrong message to remainers – particularly in my party.”

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us