British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty

Boris considers new option to call election

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could back a plan by two opposition parties to plot for a December 9 election as he vows to "look at all options" to get Brexit done.

Mr Johnson has opened the door to backing the Remainer plan - ending his hopes of getting Brexit delivered before the national poll.

The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party have proposed an even earlier election date than Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered, trying to force his government to delay a final decision on its European Union divorce deal.

"The challenge is absolutely on (the prime minister), because if he is serious about wanting an election and if he's genuine about having an election before Christmas, then he can back this bill," Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson told the BBC.

But Conservative Party chair James Cleverly retorted that the new election proposal was "clearly a gimmick".

"We're not going to listen to two parties who explicitly said they want to stop Brexit from happening," he told the BBC. "We're not going to be complicit in them stopping Brexit."

The chess move by the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party reflects the volatile political landscape now in Britain.

The ruling Conservatives desperately want a new election to bolster their numbers in Parliament, but they face resistance from the main opposition Labour Party, which fears the country will be unwittingly tricked into crashing out of the European Union without a deal.

The latest election proposal is an effort to force Johnson to delay debate in Parliament on his Brexit withdrawal bill until after any election, depriving him of a possible victory on his trademark issue going into the campaign.

A pedestrian walks past Brexit banners outside Parliament in London. Picture: AP
A pedestrian walks past Brexit banners outside Parliament in London. Picture: AP

It makes Mr Johnson's government choose between holding an election to improve its position in Parliament and its goal of securing Brexit before that election takes place.

Mr Johnson made a high stakes bid to end the crippling Brexit deadlock by demanding Labour meet him in a December 12 poll - giving him enough time to have another go at passing his Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

The PM had also said he would bring back the same motion every day this week in a bid to maximise pressure on Labour and other opposition MPs to trigger an election.

According to an opinion poll by Opinium for The Observor, the Conservatives under Mr Johnson have opened up a 16-point lead in the polls in a sign that the public backs the Prime Minister's attempt to break the Brexit deadlock.

The Tories are up three points on 40 per cent, with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour stuck on 24 per cent.

The opposition leader needs to decide what his party will do this week when Mr Johnson calls a vote for a general election and a change to pass his Brexit deal.

The Opinium poll also shows Mr Johnson is seen as the best leader by more than twice as many people as Mr Corbyn is, with a 39 per cent approval rating compared to 16 per cent for the Labour man.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: AP
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: AP

As a result, Labour rebels are mounting a secret plot to oust Mr Corbyn as his own backbenchers fear the party will get "smashed" in a general election.

The moderate MPs plan to force the Labour boss to resign before the party is wiped out by the Tories in a national vote.

They also want to block "Corbyn legacy" candidates standing in vacant seats - ending Mr Corbyn's plot to keep the party on the far left after he leaves, The Mail on Sunday reports.

The rebels have set up a WhatsApp group called "Clause One" - a reference to the party's constitution - where they will discuss ways to oust Mr Corbyn.

It comes after moderate MP Neil Coyle told Mr Corbyn to his face that his leadership could be disastrous for the party's hopes of ever getting back to No10.

Mr Coyle reportedly said: "If you give Johnson the Election he wants, it's not just you that will not be Prime Minister.

"If Johnson decides to get a No Deal Brexit and then Scotland leaves the UK, we may never have a Labour Prime Minister again.'

REBEL MPs PLOT TO TAKE CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT

Rebel Remainer MPs are plotting to take control of parliament to try and force a vote on a second Brexit referendum or a customs union, it has been reported.

The Sun says the rebels will attempt to seize control of the Commons agenda as early as next week and will not give into Prime Minister Boris Johnson's snap election demands.

They used a similar tactic to force the Prime Minister to ask for a Brexit delay with the Benn act.

Several MPs told The Guardian that if the PM continues to halt work on an exit agreement with the EU until a December election is agreed they will try and take control of parliament to force a vote on Brexit legislation.

The votes could include motions on introducing a customs union and a controversial "People's Vote", the report says.

 

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: AP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: AP

They aim to show decision makers in Brussels that the UK parliament will use the extension to try and break the Brexit deadlock.

Mr Johnson has called on Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to "man up" and agree to a December 12 general election to avoid a new Brexit paralysis for months.

The PM needs Labour's support to win a two thirds majority to set a polling day date in a showdown Commons vote on Monday.

But the Opposition boss announced he will turn Boris down, creating another titanic Parliamentary stand off.

 

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: AP
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: AP

Instead, Mr Corbyn set the PM a new high bar of guarantees against No Deal first, which the Tories insisted were drawn up to be unreachable.

Domestic legislation will continue as normal if the election vote is lost. But the PM said a law to enact his new Brexit deal would stay on ice, potentially for weeks on end.

Mr Johnson said: "If they want to build on the success we had in agreeing that deal, we can bring back the Withdrawal Bill and have more debates on Brexit.

 

Britain wants to know: can these two men sort out the Brexit mess? Picture: AP
Britain wants to know: can these two men sort out the Brexit mess? Picture: AP

"But they have got to agree a deadline. No one will believe the Labour Party are going to allow Breixt to happen unless there is the deadline of an election on December 12."

Warning that the crippling stand off could last well into next year, a Downing Street source added: "We couldn't hold an election in January as that would mean campaigning over Christmas, which wouldn't be popular, so an election vote this week is the last chance.

"If MPs don't vote for an election this week, they are voting for not just one extension but another in January too."

EU LEAVES BORIS JOHNSON'S BREXIT PLANS IN LIMBO

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit plans are in limbo as the European Union makes Britain sweat until next week on its decision about an extension.

European leaders met last night to discuss the delay, which they have agreed to but have refused to release the details.

They were waiting until at least Monday when the UK parliament holds a vote on whether to have a December election for the first time in almost 100 years.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to schoolchildren during his visit to Middleton Primary School in Milton Keynes, UK. Picture: Getty
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to schoolchildren during his visit to Middleton Primary School in Milton Keynes, UK. Picture: Getty

The European Commission's chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said: "We are following all the events in London this week and in the coming days very closely.

"What I can tell you is that the EU 27 have agreed to the principle of an extension and work will now continue in the coming days.

"The intention is to take this decision by a written procedure."

Mr Johnson plans to table a new bill to call for a general election on December 12.

The vote will be taken on Monday but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already told his MPs to sabotage the vote.

A leaked memo to Labour MPs written in red capital letters said: "We will abstain on this motion, colleagues who wish may oppose this item."

 

Labour's position means that Mr Johnson has no chance of getting a general election for Christmas because he needs a two-thirds "super majority" to get it through.

However, the determined PM has vowed to keep putting a vote on an election date before parliament every day until he does get his way.

"We will pursue a general election every day from then onwards and do everything we can to get it," Mr Johnson said.

It is understood the Conservatives hope to paint Mr Corbyn, who is already trailing badly in the polls, as a ditherer not fit to run the country.

Mr Corbyn has claimed he will not support an election until a no-deal option has been taken off the table.

 

Mr Johnson has already passed a deal in principle through the House of Commons but is at least 40 votes short of a majority.

Every move he currently makes relies on an unlikely coalition of former Conservative MPs, some independents and a few Labour MPs in seats where voters overwhelmingly want to leave the EU.

There has been a Game of Thrones-style shifting of alliances in the British parliament, with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist party backing Labour in some votes to delay Brexit.

The Scottish National Party on the other hand has supported the government on some issues because it wants an election, with polling showing it would win a landslide in the north.

The SNP wants to use any power to call for a second referendum on Scottish independence, after the 2014 vote failed.

 

Placards at a Labour rally in Bristol. Picture: Getty
Placards at a Labour rally in Bristol. Picture: Getty

 

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A poll published this week claimed that 61 per cent of people in Scotland thought Brexit would lead to the break up of the union of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Electoral officers were last night frantically trying to find enough polling stations in case the election does get called for December, the first time it has been held in that month since 1923.