Labour will block Boris Johnson’s plans for an early General Election until November after entering into a pact with the SNP to stop a No Deal exit, it was revealed last night.
Jeremy Corbyn held a secret meeting yesterday with Ian Blackford, the Scottish nationalists’ Westminster leader, to agree an election should only be held after Britain has secured another Brexit delay from the EU.
Mr Corbyn believes he can derail the Prime Minister’s plans to hold a vote on October 15, forcing him to seek another delay to Brexit.
The Labour and SNP chiefs agreed to October 20 at the earliest, The Telegraph reported, although Mr Corbyn’s advisers have told him to go for November.
The Prime Minister is being frustrated by Mr Corbyn, who along with Mr Blackford, has repeatedly called for a general election over the last two years, only to back off with October 31 looming.
Mr Johnson is expected to go for broke on Monday and call for a general election again after he was slapped down in the Commons this week.
What next for Brexit?
It comes after yet another atrocious day for the Prime Minister on Thursday:
Yesterday Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell admitted there were splits in the Labour Party over the timing of a snap poll.
Mr McDonnell, Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer want the Labour leader to opt for November so that Article 50 will have been extended when Britain votes.
Backbenchers are also agreed on this, not just because of the threat of No Deal, but also because recent polling shows Labour behind.
He is trailing behind Mr Johnson and one party source told The Daily Telegraph: ‘We know that Jeremy isn’t polling brilliantly.’
A poll yesterday showed Britons fear Mr Corbyn in Downing Street more than they fear No Deal.
The Labour leader originally planned to vote in favour of an election, once a law is in place forcing the Prime Minister to go to Brussels on October 19 to demand a three-month Brexit delay.
But most of his MPs and much of his shadow cabinet are against this plan, saying Labour should not agree to an election until Mr Johnson has actually delivered the letter requesting an extension.
Mr McDonnell said the Labour leadership was in contact with legal experts, other opposition parties and the Parliamentary Labour Party about what to do and noted that ‘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 programme.
‘So, we are now consulting about whether it’s better to go long, therefore, rather than to go short.’
A government source yesterday accused Mr Corbyn of ‘rank hypocrisy’ for blocking the election despite repeatedly calling for one.
In response to Downing Street’s attack on ‘cowardly’ Mr Corbyn for blocking an early election, Mr McDonnell said: ‘I wish he would put aside Donald Trump’s script for a time and have a serious discussion.
‘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.’
The shadow chancellor called on Mr Johnson to ‘grow up’, and shared Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson’s concerns about the Prime Minister trying to force through No Deal.
‘That’s one of the dilemmas we’re facing,’ he said. ‘We’re looking now at taking legal advice on how secure that Bill is, but we’re also consulting the other opposition parties, and our own party on the date of a general election. We’re desperate for a general election.’
A string of backbench Labour MPs ruled out backing a general election before the UK has agreed to extend the current Brexit deadline of October 31.
David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham in North London, said: ‘I won’t vote for an election unless it is guaranteed to happen after October 31st. We desperately need a Labour government, but the immediate priority is to stop No Deal.’
Former Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith, who represents Pontypridd in South Wales, added: ‘We should refuse any election before October 31st, with a No Deal Brexit definitively ruled out.’
Ben Bradshaw, the MP for Exeter, Devon, said: ‘Labour and the other opposition parties must not save him, but ensure an election is only called after October 31st, when he will have failed completely.’
Meanwhile Stockton South MP Paul Williams said: ‘I won’t be voting for a general election until after 31st October. Johnson is trying to trick Parliament into letting him crash out of the EU without a deal, whilst pretending he is negotiating.’
One senior Labour Remainer said even if Mr Corbyn orders MPs to back the motion calling for an early poll, few would do so.
‘There is unanimity,’ he said. ‘We are resolute. Boris Johnson is saying don’t worry, the Labour Party will cave… but we are not going to… The vast majority of all MPs, activists, they know Johnson’s on the ropes and he’s got to own his own mess.’