Boris Johnson challenges MPs to force him out and trigger early election

Jeremy Corbyn says the PM's challenge is 'null, of no effect and should be quashed'.

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Wednesday 25 September 2019 19:43
Boris Johnson calls on Jeremy Corbyn and the opposition to table a motion of no confidence in the government

Prime minister Boris Johnson has issued a challenge to opposition parties to force an early election by voting no confidence in him on Thursday.

Mr Johnson faced loud demands for his resignation from MPs on the first day of parliament’s return following the humiliating Supreme Court ruling that his suspension of sittings was unlawful.

He told MPs that the unanimous legal judgement of 11 of the UK’s most senior judges was “wrong”.

And he said that opposition parties should have the “courage” to table a no confidence vote to remove him from office, promising to make time for a debate tomorrow.

Downing Street even indicated that Tory MPs may be ready to vote no confidence in their own government in order to bring about the early election which Mr Johnson craves.

“I think the people of this country have had enough,” said the prime minister amid raucous scenes in the Commons chamber.

“This parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done, or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.”

But Jeremy Corbyn dismissed his offer of a confidence vote with the words of the Supreme Court, saying it was ”null, of no effect and should be quashed”.

Labour insists it will not trigger a confidence vote to oust the PM until it can be sure that the danger of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October has been avoided.

Related: Boris Johnson faces MPs after Supreme Court humiliation

The Labour leader said: “If he wants an election, get an extension and let’s have an election.”

Describing Mr Johnson as “a dangerous prime minister who thinks he is above the law, but in truth is not fit for the office he holds”, Mr Corbyn said: “After yesterday’s ruling, he should have done the honourable thing and resigned.

“Yet here he is, forced back to this House to rightfully face scrutiny, without a shred of remorse or humility and no substance whatsoever.”

The Labour leader accused Mr Johnson of making “minimal” efforts to secure a revised withdrawal agreement and called on him to release papers setting out details of any offer he has made to Brussels to keep the Irish border open after Brexit.

Repeating his demand for Mr Johnson’s resignation, Mr Corbyn told MPs: “Quite simply, for the good of this country, he should go.”

Mr Johnson won prolonged applause from Tory MPs as he accused Labour of “running away” from an election under Mr Corbyn because it was "not only terrified that he might lose but even more terrified by the remote possibility that he might win".

The PM said Corbyn had been stopped for going for an election by colleagues including shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

"He is being held captive by his colleagues, the electorate are being held captive by this zombie parliament and zombie opposition and he wants the whole country to be held captive in the EU after 31 October at a cost of more than £1 billion a month," said Mr Johnson. "We say No. I say No. Let's get Brexit done and let's take this country forward."

The PM refused to apologise in response to a direct challenge from Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.

“Even my five-year-old knows that if you do something wrong, you have to say sorry,” said Ms Swinson. “If my son can apologise for kicking a football indoors, surely the prime minister can have the humility to say sorry for misleading the Queen, misleading the country and illegaly shutting down democracy.”

Ms Swinson revealed earlier in the day that Lib Dems are working with other opposition parties to bring forward Mr Johnson’s 19 October deadline for requesting a delay to Brexit as early as next week.

The Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford called on the PM to “end this dictatorship” by resigning and urged opposition parties to unite to force him out if he would not go voluntarily.

Ian Blackford: 'We must unstick this mess' Boris Johnson's 'days of lying and cheating must be numbered'

“The prime minister’s position is no longer tenable,” said Mr Blackford. “His failure to resign is an embarrassment. People have had enough of this shambles.

“The prime minister should resign, but if he fails to do so, the opposition must unite to trigger a vote of no confidence to ring this chaotic government down.”

Mr Blackford said a confidence vote should be followed by the appointment of an interim PM who could avoid no-deal Brexit by securing an extension to negotiations before a general election.

“We must unstick this mess,” he told MPs. “We must trust the people to make their choice. We can’t trust this prime minister. His time must be up.

“His days of lying, of cheating and of undermining the rule of law must be numbered.”

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