MPs reject Prime Minister's third attempt to force early general election to end Brexit deadlock

MPs have rejected Boris Johnson's third attempt to force an early general election to end the Brexit deadlock in parliament.

Monday, 28th October 2019, 8:11 pm
Pro Brexit demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photo by Mok/PA Wire.

The Prime Minister had urged the Commons to back his plan for a poll on Thursday, December 12 - which would have provided time to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill before the campaign starts.

But MPs voted 299 to 70, short of the two-thirds majority needed, in favour of a snap election.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has since told MPs the Government will give notice of a short Bill for a general election on December 12.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the election debate ahead of the vote in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo/House of Commons.

MPs will be asked to vote for the general election under the one-clause motion at the Bill's second reading on Tuesday, October 29, it is understood.

It was expected he would make the fresh attempt to drive legislation through the Commons which would only require a simple majority, and set aside the provisions of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.

It comes after the Liberal Democrats and SNP indicated over the weekend that they would back such an approach if the poll was held on December 9.

Earlier today, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to "consider carefully" any legislation which "locks in" the date of a general election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during the election debate ahead of the vote in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo/House of Commons.

He appeared to offer a warmer response to a national poll on December 9, as mooted by the Liberal Democrats and SNP, rather than the Government's bid for a December 12 ballot box showdown.

But Mr Corbyn had insisted Labour wants a no-deal Brexit to be "definitely and definitively" taken off the table, adding any election plan must ensure the voting rights of "all of our citizens are protected".

He said students "risk being disenfranchised" by a December 12 election as they will be finishing their term, something which "may not be the case" on December 9.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Corbyn said the PM "cannot be trusted" and had "abandoned" his Queen's Speech, Budget and Brexit deal.

Members listen to Prime Minister Boris Johnson speak during the election debate ahead of the vote in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo/House of Commons.

The Labour leader added: "He said he would never ask for an extension and he said he would rather die in a ditch - another broken promise."

Mr Corbyn criticised Mr Johnson for spending £100 million on an advertising campaign for Brexit on October 31, adding he "failed to deliver".

He added: "He has failed because he has chosen to fail and he now seeks to blame Parliament."

The Opposition leader said the PM will "avoid his responsibilities", and reiterated he did not trust him.

Intervening, Mr Johnson said: "He is mistaken, as I always said this Government obeys the law, we've complied with the law and that has taken its course.

"Parliament asked for this delay, now it's up to him to go to the country in a general election, that's what he should do."

Mr Corbyn replied: "If he always obeys the law, why was he found guilty by the Supreme Court?"

He said parts of the country "will be dark before 4pm" if an election takes place in December, adding: "Many students will have just finished their term and gone home for Christmas."

As Tory MPs groaned, Mr Corbyn replied: "People having the right to vote is what an election is all about. They (students) risk being disenfranchised."

After further pressing the student issue, Mr Corbyn said: "The latter point may not be the case on December 9 and we will consider carefully any legislation proposed that locks in the date."

In his concluding remarks, Mr Corbyn reiterated the desire for a no-deal Brexit to be ruled out.

He went on: "We agree that an early election is necessary, but also seek good reason, since no general election has been held in December since 1923."

Mr Corbyn said: "He should, for once in his life, stick to his word and deliver.

"He says in his misogynistic way that people should man up.

"A bit rich from a Prime Minister who, at every turn, refuses to face up to his responsibilities and serially breaks his promises."

He added: "When no-deal is off the table, when the date for an election can be fixed in law, and when we can ensure students are not being disenfranchised, we will back an election so this country can get the government it needs."