Boris Johnson has put in a defiant Commons performance in the wake of his Supreme Court defeat, ignoring calls to resign and mocking Labour for failing to back a general election. But he drew anger for suggesting that the best way of honouring Jo Cox’s memory was to “get Brexit done”.
The prime minister accused MPs of “political cowardice” and demanded parliament “step aside” to allow him to deliver Brexit. He attacked Jeremy Corbyn for claiming to want a general election but voting against it – as Labour’s Hilary Benn said the PM had “no mandate, no majority, no credibility”.
But the flashpoint of the evening was Mr Johnson’s refusal to tone down his language around what he has called the “surrender bill” – the Benn legislation designed to block no-deal Brexit – and his decision to dismiss complaints by MPs that they have been subjected to death threats as “humbug”.
After repeated calls to moderate his words, the PM further said, in response to the new MP for Batley and Spen, Tracy Brabin, that he believed “the best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox and indeed the best to bring this country together would be, I think, to get Brexit done”.
MPs reacted with fury, while Ms Cox’s widower Brendan said he felt “a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way”. Mr Johnson even faced rebukes from his own side, with cabinet minister Nicky Morgan tweeting that “at a time of strong feelings we all need to remind ourselves of the effect of everything we say on those watching us”.
But there were angry and borderline abusive contributions from MPs across the House on the first day back since prorogation was ruled unlawful.
The bad-tempered clashes came after attorney general Geoffrey Cox said he would consider publishing the legal advice which led to the unlawful prorogation, but also railed against the “dead parliament” and claimed MPs had no “moral right” to remain in the Commons.
He, the prime minister and Jacob Rees-Mogg all taunted Labour for failing to vote for a general election. Jeremy Corbyn and Mr Johnson sparred over the issue on which they have each imposed their own conditions; an Article 50 extension and leaving the EU, respectively.
Tomorrow, the government will introduce a motion seeking a conference recess for next week.
Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP, tweeted at the end of the night: “Not sure we can look the nation in the eye & say that was a good day at the office. The maths is simple. This is a minority Gov. We need a couple dozen friends to support a Brexit deal. There was nothing friendly about today. Let’s learn from this.”
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Boris Johnson mostly avoided talking about Brexit during his rambling inaugural address to the UN General Assembly on the topic of AI.
Speaking in a late slot on Tuesday to a sparsely populated hall, Mr Johnson discussed the potential perils of new technological advances while hailing London as having "the biggest tech [industry] anywhere in Europe".
The speech came on a day when the Supreme Court ruled that his decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, making the address his last commitment before cutting his trip to New York short and returning early to the UK.
Michael Gove has just finished speaking about the Supreme Court decision on Radio 4's Today programme, saying he "absolutely appreciates" the decision.
“Until now what the government did was entirely lawful," he said. "The Supreme Court has taken a different view.”
He says the government will respect the judgement of 11 Supreme Court justices.
Asked whether he agreed it amounted to a "constitutional coup" - something attributed to Jacob Rees-Mogg in reports this morning - he says "no".
Asked whether the government should apologise, he says: "I don't think the government should apologise for having a domestic agenda."
Michael Gove has claimed some judges disagree with the Supreme Court ruling.
“I think it’s important to stress that while the Supreme Court was clear, there is a respectable legal opinion that disagrees with that view,” he told the Today programme.
“It’s perfectly possible in a democracy to say you respect a judgment and will comply with the judgment, but you also note that there are a range of views about the appropriateness of a particular course of action.
“I’m not criticising the Supreme Court - I would not criticise the Supreme Court, even though I disagree with that position – I’m simply pointing out that both in England and in Scotland, very senior judges took the view that this was lawful.”
Boris Johnson did have a phone call with the Queen about the Supreme Court ruling on prorogation, but a government official has declined to say if he apologised.
Our deputy political editor has all the details.
Opposition parties are demanding an immediate statement by the prime minister to the reconvened Commons on the devastating finding of 11 of the UK’s most senior judges that his five-week suspension of parliament was unlawful.
MPs have been put under a strict whip to be in the Commons chamber for the resumption of sittings at 11.30am.
Opponents of a no-deal Brexit have vowed to use all parliamentary mechanisms available to ensure the PM complies with a law requiring him to seek an extension to EU withdrawal talks beyond the current deadline of 31 October.
And Labour has made clear it will move immediately after the extension is “locked in” to force a general election which could come within weeks.
Jeremy Corbyn said he would not call a vote of no confidence until a no-deal Brexit is off the table, a date that could be as late as October 19.
The Benn Bill gave Boris Johnson until that date to secure a deal with the EU or call for a three-month extension.
“Until it is very clear that the application will be made, per the legislation, to the EU to extend our membership to at least January, then we will continue pushing for that and that is our priority,” said Corbyn.
He added: “When that has been achieved we will then be ready with a motion of no confidence.”
Corbyn also told the BBC he thought Boris Johnson would have received advice from government lawyers that proroguing Parliament for five weeks was “questionable”.
“I would have thought it would have been pretty obvious that the course the PM was set on was very risky and an affront to our democracy,” he said.
Nigel Farage has explained why he thinks Boris Johnson’s position as PM is untenable.
“I don’t think Brussels even knows who to negotiate with,” he told the Today programme. “Is Boris Johnson a caretaker prime minister? He’s leading a minority government in parliament and his chances of getting passed by parliament is just about zero.
“So I think we’re heading towards extension [of Article 50]. I think that’s the most likely outcome.
“Jeremy Corbyn can’t stop us having an election forever. At some point there is going to be a general election.
Asked about Corbyn’s suggestion he would want to agree to an election after no-deal was taken off the table at the European Council summit in mid-October, Farage said: “That would mean, probably, an election in the last Thursday in November.”
He added: “As somebody who is a Brexiteer I don’t believe there’s any chance of getting a Brexit of any meaningful kind unless we have a general election and completely different make up in parliament.”
The Brexit Party leader said he would still be willing to an electoral pact with the Tories if Johnson committed to a no-deal Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn has called on Boris Johnson to apologise to the Queen.
The Labour leader said: “I think he should apologise to her [the Queen] for the advice he gave her but, more importantly, apologise to the British people for what he's done in trying to shut down our democracy at a very crucial time when people are very, very worried about what will happen on October 31.
“He clearly has abused the power he has in the royal prerogative and attempted to close down parliament.”
Lib Dem MP Ed Davey – the party’s deputy leaders – has suggested opposition MPs might need to draft further legislation to stop Boris Johnson forcing through a no-deal Brexit.
The Benn Bill gives Johnson until 19 October to secure a deal with the EU or call for a three-month extension.
“It might need an extra law, who knows? The key thing is the extension of Article 50.”
Asked if the Benn Bill is “watertight”, Davey said: “I’ve certainly seen opinion, of a number of very notable lawyers, that it’s not watertight – and if that’s the case we may need another bill to ensure a no-deal Brexit is completely taken off the table.”
MPs are expected to demand the government releases of all legal advice on prorogation when they return to the Commons.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the attorney general Geoffrey Cox should “consider his position” after it emerged he advised Boris Johnson that suspending parliament was legal.
More details here:
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