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Thursday, 24 October 2019

Boris Johnson faces growing Tory revolt over threat to hold General Election BEFORE Brexit

BORIS Johnson faces a growing revolt from the Cabinet and backbench Tory MPs over his threat to hold a general election before delivering Brexit.

The PM has vowed to force a snap poll if Brussels agrees to Parliament’s request for a new three month-long Brexit delay until January 31.

Boris Johnson faces a growing Tory revolt over his threat to hold an election before Brexit
EPA
Vote Leave guru Dominic Cummings is the most ardent proponent for an immediate general election
Alamy Live News

But allies say privately Boris is “torn” over the dilemma of whether to instead try again to pass his landmark Withdrawal Agreement Bill to take Britain out of the EU first.

The most ardent proponent for an immediate general election is the PM’s chief adviser in No10, Dominic Cummings.

Vote Leave guru Mr Cummings believes holding a nationwide poll before the UK leaves would deliver tens of thousands of pro-Brexit Labour voters in key swing seats, and the Commons will continue to block the deal.

But Mr Cummings was looking increasingly isolated as a series of ministers said delivering Brexit must be the priority.

As well as angering voters who hate elections, they also fear the damage Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party would do to the Tory vote during a campaign fought with Mr Johnson having failed to deliver on his “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31.

One Cabinet minister told The Sun: “I want the Bill passed ASAP. We have a majority for it, 30 was strong”. Another Brexiteer Tory minister said: “An election isn’t in our gift. It’s pointless to threaten it.

REVOLT ON ‘TORN’ PM

“We have to just do what the British people want and try to get this bill through, even if it takes a month.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith went public with his preference, saying: “What I want is to listen to Northern Ireland MPs, get a programme motion that is to the satisfaction to the majority of people in this House, and resolve this situation.

“I think that is where I feel our responsibility lies.”

Other senior Tories are sceptical there is a majority for the Tories in an election dominated by Brexit, and fear the party could even lose seats.

Another Cabinet minister, a Boris loyalist, added: “We’ll lose seats in Scotland and London if it’s all about Brexit, and I can’t see where we’ll pick them up.

“Labour is very well dug in across the Northern Brexit seats and it will be very difficult to dislodge them.”

FAILED ‘DO OR DIE’ PLEDGE

The division came as Mr Johnson met Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to thrash out a new timetable for the Brexit bill.

But the talks ended in acrimony without any progress. Boris was quizzed by rebel Tory MPs during PMQs yesterday on if he would bring back the Brexit bill and try again.

Two of the nine Tory rebels who allied with Labour to torpedo the bill’s timetable on Tuesday night – Ken Clarke and Richard Harrington – pledged their support for the PM if he would agree more time to scrutinise it.

Mr Harrington told him: “We’d be delighted to accept a compromise timetable. This was not a vote for revocation” In a hint he might do that, the PM told veteran ex-Cabinet minister Ken Clarke he had made “a very reasonable case”.

Boris added: “I will wait to see what our EU partners say. I will be studying their answer very closely to see how they proceed.”

A YouGov poll revealed Brits want an early election to end the Westminster logjam, but the nation is split down the middle on Brexit lines on whether it should be before or after Brexit happens.

Two thirds of Leavers – 66% – want Brexit done before going to the ballot box, but 51% of Remainers want the election first.

Former de facto deputy PM David Lidington said his “gut instinct would be to give it another go”.

But arch Eurosceptic and former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith insisted: “The Government has to go for an election, even maybe a vote of no confidence in ourselves”.

What is the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

THE Withdrawal Agreement Bill is necessary now that the UK government has agreed a draft treaty with the European Union.

The Bill, should it be passed by the UK Parliament, will enshrine the deal in law.

Due to the strength of feeling with Remainer MPs, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s precarious position in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson could lose the vote.

Theresa May, the previous Conservative Prime Minister got to the same stage with her agreement but failed to get the backing of Parliament.

Mr Johnson though believes he now has sufficient backing to get his proposal enshrined in law.


Allies say the PM is ‘torn’ over whether to try again to pass his landmark Withdrawal bill instead
PA:Press Association
David Lidington said his ‘gut instinct would be to give it another go’
PA:Press Association
Mr Johnson today met Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to thrash out a new timetable for the Brexit bill
PRU


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