Union boss says Boris Johnson has 'surrendered to Brexit Party' as she backs MPs blocking election

Posted On: 
9th September 2019

The head of Britain's trade union movement has accused Boris Johnson of having "surrendered to the Brexit Party" as she backed MPs' moves to block an October general election.

The TUC chief claimed a 'moral vaccum' in Downing Street.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady will use a speech at the organisation's annual Congress in Brighton on Monday to accuse the "clown prince" Prime Minister of aping Nigel Farage.

And she will urge MPs to stick to their guns in opposing a general election before the current Brexit deadline passes on 31 October.

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"Boris Johnson accuses his opponents of being cowards," Ms O'Grady will say. "But what could be more cowardly than running scared of Parliament?

"He’s the one waving the white flag. He surrendered to the Brexit Party and he’s ready to surrender our NHS to Donald Trump.

“It tells us everything we need to know about the moral vacuum at the heart of Number Ten. And why we can’t trust him on Brexit."

Chancellor Sajid Javid on Sunday repeatedly refused to rule out an electoral alliance with with the newly-formed Brexit Party after Nigel Farage said it could deliver the Tories a 100-seat majority.


The intervention from Ms O'Grady comes ahead of Monday's fresh vote in the Commons on whether or not to hold a general election on 15 October, Mr Johnson's preferred date for a poll.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Prime Minister needs the backing of a two-thirds majority of MPs - 434 votes - to secure an election.

But the Prime Minister's last attempt only won the backing of 298 MPs.

Labour's top team initially appeared split on the timing of any election, with Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer telling Labour MPs last week that the country should not go to the polls until after the 31 October Brexit deadline had passed.

But a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said the party could back an election a soon as the cross-party bill aimed at stopping no-deal Brexit - expected to gain Royal Assent on Monday - was passed.

However, Labour agreed with other opposition parties on Friday not to support the PM's latest bid to call an election.

Throwing the TUC's weight behind that stance, Ms O'Grady will say: "The Prime Minister acts like he’s the clown prince of Downing Street. But the last thing we need now is a clown in charge - Brexit isn’t a game.

"What happens next matters to people’s real lives.

"So let’s get no deal ruled out for good. Then we can have that general election to get the change working people need."

Shopworkers' union Usdaw also backed the decision to wait until after 31 October.

"The first priority for Parliament is to ensure that we don’t leave the European Union without a deal, with all the risks that involves," the union's general secretary Paddy Lillis said.

"So Labour was right to put the security of workers and the prosperity of the country first, ahead of a general election.

“We now have a Government without a majority, riven by internal party divisions and consumed by Brexit.

"There has to be a general election soon, which will be decided by Parliament, but it is right to secure the country’s economy and future arrangements with our biggest trading partner first."