Boris Johnson refused to resign in the wake of his own brother’s decision to quit the government over an “unresolvable tension” between the national interest and family ties. Jo Johnson also announced his intention to stand down at the next election.
After a meandering speech in West Yorkshire, the prime minister was asked if he would follow his younger sibling out of the doors of parliament but said: “My job is to get us out on 31 October and that is what we’re going to do.”
And things went from bad to worse for the prime minister, as one man politely asked him to “please leave my town”, while another heckled him in front of TV cameras in Morley.
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Peers have agreed to rush through a rebel bill to block a no-deal Brexit by Friday at 5pm in a late-night breakthrough in the House of Lords.
Boris Johnson’s bid for a snap general election – to carry out a crash-out Brexit on 31 October if necessary – has failed. It marks his third crushing Commons defeat in 24 hours.
Rob Merrick has all the details.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell acknowledged splits in Labour about the timing of a general election.
He said the Labour leadership was in contact with legal experts, other opposition parties and the Parliamentary Labour Party about what to do and “people have got different views on this”.
“The problem that we have got is that we cannot at the moment have any confidence in Boris Johnson abiding by any commitment or deal that we could construct,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
“That’s the truth of it. So, we are now consulting about whether it's better to go long, therefore, rather than to go short.”
In response to Downing Street’s attack on “cowardly” Jeremy Corbyn, McDonnell said: “I wish he would put aside Donald Trump’s script for a time and have a serious discussion.
“What’s happening now he’s demeaning the office of prime minister, he really is.
“We want a general election as well but we want it in the interests of the country when we have prevented a no-deal Brexit, and on that basis we have got to determine the date.”
Tory former Cabinet minister Damian Green, leader of the One Nation group of Conservatives, has called for reinstatement of the 21 rebels kicked out of the party.
He told the BBC: “I’m afraid it does look as though somebody has decided that the moderate, progressive wing of the Conservative Party is not wanted on voyage.
“That’s wrong in principle because there are many Conservative traditions, but it is terrible practical politics to narrow your appeal just before a general election.”
It follows any tense 1922 Committee meeting at which Boris Johnson reportedly faced anger over the decision to expel the rebels – and the power wielded by his right-hand man Dominic Cummings.
The No 10 strategist reportedly told rebel over the phone: “When are you f***ing MPs going to realise, we are leaving on 31 October? We are going to purge you.”
A No 10 spokesman has been using the ”chicken” and “cowardly” rhetoric on Labour’s refusal – so far – to back an election.
He said Boris Johnson will today “speak directly to the public, setting out the vital choice that faces our country” on a visit to Yorkshire.
“He will argue that Jeremy Corbyn’s surrender bill will force the prime minister to go to Brussels and surrender to any demands they make. This would in essence overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history - the 2016 referendum. The PM will not do this.
“It is clear the only action is to go back to the people and give them the opportunity to decide what they want: Boris to go to Brussels and get a deal, or leave without one on October 31 or Jeremy Corbyn arriving in Brussels with his surrender bill begging for more delay, more dither and accepting whatever terms Brussels imposes over our nation.”
The spokesman added: “For Jeremy Corbyn to continue to avoid an election would be a cowardly insult to democracy.”
The latest noises from senior Labour figures suggests they are backing away from a snap election. Probably. Maybe. Possibly.
John McDonnell was on Peston last night and said: “My own preference at the moment is later rather than sooner. We’re talking to people on that and it’s all about the security of preventing a no deal Brexit.”
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer reportedly reassured worried Labour MPs they won’t agree to an election until a three-month election delay is agreed by EU leaders in mid-to-late October. But fellow frontbencher Emily Thornberry said the decision was still being made “on an hourly basis”.
Senior Tory Caroline Spelman – who voted against the government yesterday – will stand down as an MP at the next election, according to Bloomberg.
Spelman was not expelled with the group of 21 MPs on Tuesday night, but voted against the government on Wednesday after the chief whip “graciously allowed me to vote with my conscience” on the anti-no deal Brexit bill.
“I can’t be pro no-deal when I’ve seen the predictions about what will happen to jobs, I can’t ignore it,” she said.
Former defence secretary Michael Fallon is also standing down. At this rate it looks like Ken Clarke’s prediction about the Conservatives becoming the “Brexit Party rebadged” might be coming to pass.
After being called a “great big girl’s blouse” by Boris Johnson during PMQs on Wednesday, a reporter from The Sun has bought Jeremy Corbyn a blouse.
Waiting outside the Labour leader’s house in Islington on Thursday, the reporter brandished a pink floral shirt from Marks & Spencer at Corbyn’s front gate.
Incidentally, plenty of people noticing the big difference in The Sun’s Scottish and English front pages today.
If there was a snap election, who would win? Our associate editor Sean O’Grady has taken a look.
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