Boris Johnson will go for Christmas election if MPs vote down Brexit bill timetable

Posted On: 
22nd October 2019

Boris Johnson will call for a general election before Christmas if MPs reject the timetable for getting his Brexit bill through Parliament.

Boris Johnson urged MPs to back his Brexit timetable.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister said he would pull the Withdrawal Agreement Bill if the so-called "programme motion" setting aside three days for it to be scrutinised is voted down, and the EU approves a three-month Brexit delay.

MPs have accused the Government of "running scared" of Parliament by giving them such a short amount of time to debate and vote on the legislation.

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But kicking off the debate on the WAB, the Prime Minister insisted MPs were being given ample opportunity to scrutinise the deal he struck last week with Brussels.

And he said an election would be the only way to break the impasse if his timetable is scuppered.

"If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this and with great regret I must say the bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election," he said.

"I will argue at that election let’s get Brexit done and the leader of opposition will make his case to spend 2020 having two referendums, one on Brexit and one of Scotland and the people will decide.

"There is another path, and that is to accept as I have done that this deal does not give us everything that we want. There is no dishonour in setting aside an entirely legitimate desire to deliver the perfect deal in the interests of seizing the great deal that is now within our grasp, of seizing the opportunity to begin healing those divisions to satisfy the aching desire of the British public that we will just get Brexit done and to move on, to do what those who sent us here want us to do and that is to address their priorities."

The programme motion vote will take place moments after MPs have voted on the general principles of the WAB.

If it is passed, the Government plans to hold committee stage - when MPs will get the chance to amend the bill - on Wednesday before completing its passage through the Commons on Thursday.

Reacting to Mr Johnson's announcement, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: "Johnson threatening a general election because Parliament might want a few more days to scrutinise his Withdrawal Bill. Pathetic. What has he got to hide?"

Addressing MPs, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "We warned on Saturday that, that if the House passed the government’s deal, it would be a disaster for our country.

"Now as we look through the detail of this Bill, we see just how right we were. Page after page of what amounts to nothing less than a charter for deregulation and a race to the bottom.

"The way in which the Prime Minister is trying to blindside this Parliament to force this deal through must be challenged.

"This is a bill of huge significance and complexity. It will decide the future of our country and the future of our economy and the economic model that will follow."

He added: "It is a vision for the future of our country that my Party, the Labour Party, cannot sign up to and does not support.

"And that is why we will be voting against the second reading tonight and, if that is carried, we would vote against the programmed motion to ensure that this elected House of Commons has the opportunity to properly scrutinise this piece of legislation."