Published On: Wed, Sep 4th, 2019

Boris urges ‘people power’ to FORCE election after Corbyn’s extraordinary act of cowardice | Politics | News

In an extraordinary act of cowardice, the Labour leader led his MPs in voting against the Prime Minister’s bid for a snap poll to finally break the deadlock at Westminster. He claimed he would not allow the electoral showdown until a no-deal Brexit is forced off the negotiating. Mr Johnson mocked Mr Corbyn as “frit” and insisted Labour’s opposition to a poll was “unsustainable”. The Prime Minister is expected to try again to get MPs to let him go to the country on October 15 to let the voters choose who will ultimately conclude the Brexit negotiations.

MPs voted by 298 to 56 in favour of a snap general election last night, but the support was below the two thirds of the total Commons membership required under the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

The vote was held shortly after MPs backed a Private Members Bill designed to force the Prime Minister to seek a fresh Brexit delay.

Mr Corbyn last night claimed he would only back an election if the Bill is passed by the House of Lords and goes onto the statue book.

“Let the Bill pass and have Royal Assent and then we can have a general election,” the Labour leader said.

He was branded “frit” and “ a chlorinated chicken” by Mr Johnson in an angry clash at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

READ MORE: Emily Maitlis: ‘I’m in trouble’ Newsnight host speaks on Brexit mishap

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Boris Johnson urges ‘people power’ after third defeat in Parliament (Image: UK PARLIAMENT)

general election boris johnson brexit jeremy corbyn commons vote eu negotiation

Brexit: What happens next? (Image: EXPRESS)

The Prime Minister was also seen to mouth across the chamber: “Call an election, you great big girl’s blouse.”

Responding to the vote last night, Mr Johnson said Mr Corbyn was “the first opposition leader in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election.”

He said: “I can only speculate as the reasons behind his decision. The obvious conclusion is that he does not think he will win.”

Signaling he could seek a further vote to force an election, Mr Johnson said: “I urge his colleagues to reflect on what I think is the unsustainability of this position overnight and in the course of the next few days.”

Mr Johnson attempted to activate the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the legislation that governs the calling of general elections, in response to the cross-party move to seize control of parliamentary business, outlaw a no-deal Brexit and force him to beg Brussels for a further delay to the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Prime Minister has branded the move a bid to “destroy” his negotiating position. He said he was reluctantly calling an election to end the deadlock between the 2016 popular vote to leave the EU and the current Remain-dominated Parliament.

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Brexit news: Latest voting intention of people who voted Conservative or Labour in 2017 (Image: EXPRESS)

Opening last night’s debate on his call for a snap poll, Mr Johnson told the Commons: “The country must now decide whether the Leader of the Opposition, or I, go to those negotiations in Brussels on the 17th October to sort this out.”

He added: “I don’t want an election, the public don’t want an election, the country doesn’t want an election, but this House has left no other option than letting the public decide who they want as Prime Minister.”

He said Mr Corbyn “would beg for an extension, he would accept whatever Brussels demands and we would then have years more dither and delay, yet more arguments over Brexit and no resolution to the uncertainty that currently bedevils this country and our economy.”

Mr Johnson said an election “must now” be held on October 15 after the legislation designed to prevent a no-deal cleared the Commons.

Taunting the opposition leader, the Prime Minister said: “He has demanded an election for two years while blocking Brexit.

“He said only two days ago that he would support an election and now Parliament, having passed a Bill that destroys the ability of Government to negotiate, is he now going to say that the public can’t be allowed an election to decide which of us sorts out this mess?”

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Brexit news: Conservative seats at risk in the next general election (Image: EXPRESS)

During the debate, Mr Corbyn likened Mr Johnson’s election proposal to “the offer of a poisoned apple to Snow White by a wicked queen”.

He said: “The Prime Minister says he has a strategy but he can’t say what it is and can’t tell the EU either – the truth is that there really is nothing there.”

To Tory jeers, Mr Corbyn insisted: “We want an election as we look forward to turfing this Government out.”

During the debate, former Tory chancellor Kenneth Clarke accused the Prime Minister of being “disingenuous”.

The pro-Brussels veteran, who had the Tory whip withdrawn yesterday after siding with rebels against the Government earlier this week, said: “I do think the Prime Minister, with the greatest respect, has a tremendous skill in keeping a straight face while he’s being so disingenuous.”

“He’s now desperate to have an election in order to bring this House’s proceedings to an end and have the general election clearly before October 31.

“He’s obviously going to campaign before that on the basis that he’s been thwarted in getting an amazing beneficial deal for this country, which is actually being blocked by wicked continental politicians and by MPs in the House of Commons who have no sense of the true national interest – which is to keep him in power.”

Tory MP Craig Mackinley said he would like to apologise to “Brenda from Bristol” – the voter famously shown on television incensed at the news of the 2017 general election – about the likelihood of a fresh poll.

He said: “What we have seen this afternoon is more of the same and the public shakes its head at this place – I’ve got an apology to make to Brenda from Bristol.”

Fellow Conservative MP Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) accused the opposition of asking for a general election for two years and u-turning now that one is being offered.

Mr Evans said: “The Prime Minister is giving the opposition the opportunity they’ve been crying out for and they’re running scared, not just from us but from the people who voted to leave the EU.”

He continued: “The Conservative Party will win that election.”

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