Boris Johnson’s last-ditch peace talks with Tory rebels FAIL

Boris Johnson is facing a titanic battle to stop MPs blocking No Deal Brexit in a Commons showdown tonight after last-ditch peace talks with Tory rebels failed.

The PM has met senior Remainers including Philip Hammond and David Gauke ahead of the crucial vote, which could define the future of the country for decades.

But the discussion quickly descended into acrimony, with government sources accusing Mr Hammond of behaving ‘disrespectfully’ and ‘chuntering’.

The premier accused the former chancellor during the encounter of ‘handing power to a Junta including Jeremy Corbyn’ by backing the anti-No Deal legislation.  

Rebels have insisted they will not back down despite warnings of deselection and Mr Johnson’s explosive threat to call a snap election for October 14.

More than a dozen are still expected to vote against the government this evening on the cross-party bid to seize control of Commons business and pass legislation ruling out No Deal.

Former ministers Justine Greening and Alistair Burt pre-empted punishment for siding with Remainers by announcing she will not stand as a Tory candidate again. 

In a challenge to the PM, Mr Hammond was reselected in Runnymede and Weybridge by executive members of the Conservative Association at a private meeting last night.

Earlier today he slammed the government’s ‘aggressive’ tactics, saying the PM will have the ‘fight of a lifetime’ if he tries to deselect him. ‘I am going to support the Bill… I think we have the numbers,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He also launched an excoriating attack on maverick No10 Brexit chief Dominic Cummings. ‘This is my party, I am going to defend my party against people who are at the heart of this government who care nothing about the future of the Conservative party,’ he said. 

Mr Hammond, Mr Gauke, Greg Clark and Caroline Nokes were among a group of senior figures in No10 for private talks this morning. 

Allies of the PM said the rest of the group were ‘civil’ and ‘respectful’ but Mr Hammond ‘interrupted’ and ‘chuntered’ during the meeting.

Mr Johnson is said to have made very clear that he ‘would not tolerate’ the Bill.   

In a dramatic statement on the steps of Downing Street last night, Mr Johnson insisted he ‘does not want’ an election, but warned that rebels would ‘chop the legs’ from the Government’s EU negotiations if they side with Jeremy Corbyn. He said he would never ask for a Brexit extension from Brussels.

Rebels have accused Mr Johnson of using the election to try and ‘purge’ Tory opponents of No Deal and turn the party into a Eurosceptic vehicle.

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM today. Sources said Mr Hammond had been 'disrespectful'

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM today. Sources said Mr Hammond had been 'disrespectful'

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM today. Sources said Mr Hammond had been ‘disrespectful’  

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd today warned against taking action against 'very valued colleagues who made a very different choice'

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd today warned against taking action against 'very valued colleagues who made a very different choice'

Former Cabinet minister Justine Greening pre-empted punishment for siding with Remainers by announcing she will not stand as a Tory candidate again

Former Cabinet minister Justine Greening pre-empted punishment for siding with Remainers by announcing she will not stand as a Tory candidate again

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd (pictured in Westminster today) warned against taking action against ‘very valued colleagues’. Former Cabinet minister Justine Greening (right being interviewed near Parliament today) pre-empted punishment for siding with Remainers by announcing she will not stand as a Tory candidate again

The PM (pictured having tea with NHS staff in No10 today) has upped the ante by making clear a vote set to be forced by Remainers later will be treated as a confidence issue

The PM (pictured having tea with NHS staff in No10 today) has upped the ante by making clear a vote set to be forced by Remainers later will be treated as a confidence issue

The PM (pictured having tea with NHS staff in No10 today) has upped the ante by making clear a vote set to be forced by Remainers later will be treated as a confidence issue

Noisy pro-EU protests have been taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolds today

Noisy pro-EU protests have been taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolds today

Noisy pro-EU protests have been taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolds today

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd today warned against taking action against ‘very valued colleagues who made a very different choice’.

‘We should consider carefully the consequences of dividing the party. But I do support the PM in his commitment… to get a deal,’ she told reporters outside her London home.

Senior Government sources have confirmed Mr Johnson will table a motion to schedule a general election for October 14 if MPs back the cross-party move to seize control of Commons business. 

How the Remainer bill to stop No Deal works

Remainer MPs have this published their plan to stop a No Deal Brexit. 

The primary aim of the so-called European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill 2019 is to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. 

But it goes much further and demands the PM ask the EU for a Brexit delay to January 31 2020 in the event Britain and Brussels are unable to agree a new deal at an EU Council meeting on October 17.

The Bill states that if the EU does agree to the request for an extension the PM must immediately accept the offer. 

If the EU propose a different extension date the PM must accept it within two days – unless it is rejected by the House of Commons. 

The Bill does say that the UK can leave the bloc without a deal but only if MPs explicitly vote in favour of such an outcome. 

However, he would need a two-third majority in the House to force a poll, and despite Jeremy Corbyn saying he was ‘delighted’ by the prospect, it is unclear if Labour will back the idea.

Many MPs are concerned that Mr Johnson would have discretion over the date, and want to pass the No Deal legislation – which would demand a three-month delay to the October 31 deadline – before agreeing to trigger a poll. 

Shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti told the BBC’s Today programme that Labour ‘lives and breathes’ for an election, but she said the ‘sequencing’ had to be considered. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today taunted that it would be the ‘mother of all U-turns’ if Labour does not support an election being held.

A government source said MPs will face a ‘simple choice’ today. The source said the vote would be treated as though it is a vote of no confidence, and that any Conservative MP voting against the Government would have the whip removed from them.

‘If they vote tomorrow to wreck the negotiation process, to go against giving Britain the ability to negotiate a deal, then they’ll also have to reflect on what comes next,’ the source said.

In a sign of the anti-establishment campaign he intends to fight, Mr Johnson said he wanted a mandate to pursue the ‘people’s agenda’ of boosting the economy and public services.

Delivering a stark message to Remainers over the crunch showdown today, Mr Johnson said he still ‘hoped’ rebels would back down. 

‘But if they do they will plainly chop the legs out from under the UK position and make any negotiation absolutely impossible,’ he said.

What are MPs voting on in the Commons tonight and how would the plan to block No Deal work? 

The business motion tabled under Standing Order 24 today

The business motion tabled under Standing Order 24 today

The business motion tabled under Standing Order 24 today 

Remainers rebels are asking for an emergency debate under Standing Order 24.

They want the Speaker to bend rules so they can table a business motion.

If approved in a vote, would let them take control of the Commons agenda tomorrow to pass legislation ruling out No Deal.

The business motion sets out that the rebels will seize control from 3pm tomorrow – after Boris Johnson’s first PMQs.

The second reading of the Bill would be completed by 5pm, and the third reading by 7pm.

It will then move into the Lords, which could prove trickier as rebels expect filibustering from Eurosceptics.  

The primary aim of the so-called European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill 2019 is to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. 

But it goes much further and demands the PM ask the EU for a Brexit delay to January 31 2020 in the event Britain and Brussels are unable to agree a new deal at an EU Council meeting on October 17.

The Bill states that if the EU does agree to the request for an extension the PM must immediately accept the offer. 

If the EU propose a different extension date the PM must accept it within two days – unless it is rejected by the House of Commons. 

The Bill does say that the UK can leave the bloc without a deal but only if MPs explicitly vote in favour of such an outcome. 

‘I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on the 31st of October. No ifs or buts.

‘We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum and armed and fortified with that conviction I believe we will get a deal at that crucial summit in October, a deal that Parliament will certainly be able to scrutinise.’

Spelling out the choice, he said: ‘Let our negotiators get on with their work without that sword of Damocles over their necks and without an election, without an election.’

MPs will today try to seize control of proceedings in the Commons to try to crash through a law which would make it illegal for the PM to pursue a chaotic split from the EU. 

The first step is to ask Speaker John Bercow to accept an emergency debate under Standing Order 24, and let them bend procedural rules to table a business of the House motion.

If approved in a crucial vote tonight, that would give the rebels control of the timetable in the Commons, allowing them to introduce the Bill to block No Deal tomorrow. To take effect the legislation must clear all its Parliamentary stages and receive Royal Assent before the Houses prorogue for the party conference break – which is due to happen as early as next Monday.

Ms Greening confirmed today that she would not stand for re-election in Putney. ‘It’s very clear to me that my concerns about the Conservative party becoming the Brexit party, in effect, have come to pass,’ she told Today.

‘So my decision is that if I really want to make a difference on opportunity and social mobility, I need to do that outside parliament.’

Mr Hammond rejected the idea Downing Street could prevent him from standing as a Tory at the next election.

‘I don’t believe they do and there would certainly be the fight of a lifetime if they tried to,’ he said. 

Asked whether he would be prepared to take such a fight to the courts, he said: ‘Possibly. A lot of my colleagues have come under immense pressure. Some have responded to that by saying ‘enough, I’m going’. 

‘That is not going to be my approach. This is my party. I have been a member of this party for 45 years.’ 

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve said: ‘I simply do not see the Conservative Party surviving in its current form if we continue behaving like this towards each other. This is now becoming a heavily ideological party being led in a way I don’t identify as being conservative at all.’ 

Ex-minister Sam Gyimah also made his position clear, saying he could not support a ‘damaging’ No Deal. ‘I will be voting against the government,’ he said. 

Yesterday evening rebels published the text of the mooted legislation, which orders the premier to ask the EU for a Brexit extension to January 31 – and accept their terms.

Dominic Cummings (pictured leaving his London home today) is believed to be masterminding the No10 Brexit strategy

Dominic Cummings (pictured leaving his London home today) is believed to be masterminding the No10 Brexit strategy

Ann Milton and Greg Clark also saw the PM today

Ann Milton and Greg Clark also saw the PM today

Dominic Cummings (pictured left leaving his London home today) is believed to be masterminding the No10 Brexit strategy. Anne Milton and Greg Clark (right) also saw the PM today

Rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve (pictured today) said he believed they had the numbers to defeat the government tonight

Rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve (pictured today) said he believed they had the numbers to defeat the government tonight

Rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve (pictured today) said he believed they had the numbers to defeat the government tonight 

Home Secretary Priti Patel was also spotted entering Downing Street by the back door today as the drama built

Home Secretary Priti Patel was also spotted entering Downing Street by the back door today as the drama built

Home Secretary Priti Patel was also spotted entering Downing Street by the back door today as the drama built

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured left in Whitehall today) taunted that it would be the 'mother of all U-turns' if Labour does not support an election being held

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured left in Whitehall today) taunted that it would be the 'mother of all U-turns' if Labour does not support an election being held

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured left in Whitehall today) taunted that it would be the ‘mother of all U-turns’ if Labour does not support an election being held

The primary aim of the so-called European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill 2019 is to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. 

Corbyn says he can block No Deal and call election 

Jeremy Corbyn risked a Labour split today as he claimed he can block No Deal and back the PM’s call for a snap election.

Boris Johnson made a bold threat to call an immediate poll last night as he faces an all-out revolt by Remainer MPs to block No Deal Brexit.

The PM will table a motion triggering a ballot on October 14 if the government loses a crunch showdown in the Commons tonight. 

Mr Corbyn said last night he was ‘delighted’ by the prospect of giving the public the opportunity to decide – suggesting that Labour would help secure the two-thirds majority required to force an early election.

But the party’s position was in tatters today after senior figures said they would only back an election if there is a cast-iron guarantee it will happen before the Halloween Brexit deadline.

Mr Corbyn struggled to clarify the approach after meeting rebel alliance MPs earlier. 

He said: ‘Labour wants to prevent a No Deal Brexit, and to have a General Election, so we can end austerity and invest in our communities. 

‘I am confident we can have both, and we’ve been in discussions about a way to achieve this.’

Aides insisted the party would be able to support the motion expected to be tabled by the PM if the government loses. 

But it goes much further and demands the PM ask the EU for a Brexit delay to January 31 2020 in the event Britain and Brussels are unable to agree a new deal at an EU Council meeting on October 17.

The Bill states that if the EU does agree to the request for an extension the PM must immediately accept the offer. 

If the EU propose a different extension date the PM must accept it within two days – unless it is rejected by the House of Commons. 

The Bill does say that the UK can leave the bloc without a deal but only if MPs explicitly vote in favour of such an outcome.  

Mr Gauke, Mr Hammond and former minister Alistair Burt have all signed the Bill – meaning they have already sealed their fate.

The enormous pressure from No10 and whips appears to have had some success in whittling down Tory rebel numbers, which had been estimated at more than 20.

Mr Johnson could also be bolstered by support from around half a dozen Eurosceptic Labour MPs. 

However, with the government’s effective majority standing at just one, Mr Johnson looks on track for defeat.  

Rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve said today that his ‘impression’ was they had enough support to win the vote this evening. 

The typically tub-thumping intervention from Mr Johnson last night came after he held a crisis meeting with his Cabinet and spent yesterday afternoon privately urging Tory MPs to fall back into line. 

He has caused fury among centrists by threatening to remove the whip from rebel Tories who join the effort to stop the UK crashing out on October 31 – effectively ending their careers. 

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured leaving his London home today) has said he is 'delighted' by the prospect of an election, but allies suggested he will not back one unless No Deal Brexit is ruled out by Boris Johnson

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured leaving his London home today) has said he is 'delighted' by the prospect of an election, but allies suggested he will not back one unless No Deal Brexit is ruled out by Boris Johnson

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured leaving his London home today) has said he is ‘delighted’ by the prospect of an election, but allies suggested he will not back one unless No Deal Brexit is ruled out by Boris Johnson 

Former Cabinet minister David Gauke claimed Mr Johnson actively wanted to lose the showdown so he can ‘purge’ Remainers reshape it into a new hardline Eurosceptic electoral force.

The scale of the challenge Mr Johnson could face in an election was also underlined today when Nigel Farage demanded the PM back a ‘clean break’ from the EU, saying ‘No deal is the best deal.’

How would the PM call a snap general election? 

Boris Johnson would request a general election on October 14 if MPs back a cross-party move to seize control of Commons business today, a government source has said. 

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (FTPA) brought in eight years ago, polls are held in May every five years – with the next one scheduled in 2022.

But Mr Johnson has a number of methods to try and trigger an early election, such as putting down a motion in the Commons and secure the agreement of two-thirds of MPs.

MPs could also pass a motion stating the House has no confidence in the government, and a new election must be held unless they win the confidence of MPs, or an alternative arrangement is found within a 14-day period. 

An alternative course could be to pass a new piece of legislation dictating a national vote on a specified date – which would only require a simple majority of MPs.

This could be a simple one line bill stating when an election would be, and FTPA would continue to apply in all other situations. This was something previously considered by Theresa May in 2017.

But additional measures may well be unnecessary as Jeremy Corbyn has said he is eager for an election to ‘let the people decide’ on Brexit, and Mr Johnson will dare him to block the poll in a vote on Wednesday. 

However, some Remainers are wary of supporting the move unless there is a cast-iron guarantee that the election will take place before the Brexit deadline.

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act gives Mr Johnson discretion to set the date after the Commons approves an election, and there is currently little or no trust between the parties.

Tory success in a poll could rely on Mr Farage’s Brexit Party not splitting the Eurosceptic vote in key marginal seats.

Mr Farage said: ‘He is intent on reheating Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement… it would leave us still inside the customs union for ever and would not be a real Brexit.’  

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has egged Mr Johnson on to call an election despite warnings from his own side that he is walking into an ‘elephant trap’ that could see Labour trounced in an election. 

The senior government source said MPs who rebel today will ‘effectively be voting for a rapid election’.

‘He wants MPs to go to conference for recess. He wants four weeks of intense negotiations to get a deal,’ the source said.

‘But if MPs don’t want to let the government get on and negotiate then the public will be forced into a choice.’

Despite the developing drama yesterday, Mr Johnson found time to meet Carry On actress Barbara Windsor, who is campaigning for better dementia support, in the No10 garden. And he has taken possession of a new Jack Russell dog with girlfriend Carrie Symonds.

The growing prospect of an election sent the Pound tumbling again, with currency markets nervous about the consequences for the country. 

The process for calling an election is not entirely straightforward for the PM. 

Under the law, a premier must secure a two-thirds majority in a Commons vote to trigger an election. 

That would require support from the Opposition, which would normally be forthcoming. 

But Remainers will be wary of supporting the move unless there is a cast-iron guarantee that the poll will take place before the Brexit deadline. 

An alternative course could be to pass a new piece of legislation dictating a national vote – which would only require a simple majority. Legally there must be 25 days between dissolution of Parliament and polling day. 

Mr Johnson could take on the unenviable accolade of having the shortest reign of any British Prime Minister should he lose a snap election next month, falling short of George Canning’s 119 day stint in 1827. 

Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings

Ms Greening posted a copy of her letter to Mr Johnson on Twitter, saying she was ‘deeply concerned’ by his approach on the Brexit issue 

In an extraordinary blue-on-blue attack yesterday, Mr Gauke said he believed Mr Johnson was ‘goading’ Conservative MPs to vote against him. 

He complained that No10 had adopted a ‘particularly confrontational approach’ in the hope that the government will ‘lose this week and then seek a general election’. He suggested the aim was to split the Tories, removing more moderate MPs so it can become a more populist party.

The Tory rebels who could back a bid to stop a No Deal Brexit

Boris Johnson has been working hard to whittle down Tory rebel numbers, but there are still thought to be more than a dozen willing to sacrifice their careers to support the anti-No Deal move tonight. 

They include: 

Philip Hammond

David Gauke 

Justine Greening 

Alistair Burt

Ken Clarke 

Nicholas Soames 

Guto Bebb

Antoinette Sandbach 

Rory Stewart

Margot James

Stephen Hammond

Richard Harrington

Caroline Nokes

Sam Gyimah

Anne Milton 

Richard Benyon 

Mr Hammond wrote to the premier last night demanding more information on how he hopes to strike a deal with the EU. 

The intentions of Theresa May – who was spotted at Westminster yesterday – are unclear.

Mr Gauke said he was yet to be contacted by whips spelling out the consequences of what will happen if he votes in favour of stopping No Deal as he said Downing Street’s strategy was clear. 

He told the BBC: ‘It’s obviously a particularly confrontational approach and, I think, designed, frankly, to realign the Conservative Party, to transform the Conservative Party very much in the direction of a Brexit party. 

‘I don’t think there seems to be a huge effort to persuade people to support the Government this week. I think they seem to be quite prepared for there to be a rebellion then to purge those who support the rebellion from the party.

‘Normally there would be plenty of cajoling. One would have friends from the Cabinet phoning up and saying ‘Come on, why don’t you support the Government, give them a bit more time?’

‘None of that is happening. The usual operation isn’t particularly happening. It does seem to me they are almost goading people into voting against the Government.

‘Because I think the strategy, to be honest, is to lose this week and then seek a general election, having removed those of us who are not against Brexit, not against leaving the European Union, but believe we should do so with a deal.’ 

Ms Rudd also waded into the argument, telling the Spectator in an interview: ‘I have made my views clear to the Prime Minister that we should not be a party that is trying to remove from our party two former chancellors, a number of ex-cabinet ministers, that the way to hold our party together and to get a deal is to bring them onside.’  

The full text of Boris Johnson’s speech on the steps of Downing Street 

Five weeks ago I spoke to you from these steps and said that this Government was not going to hang around and that we would not wait until brexit day – October 31 – to deliver on the priorities of the British people.

And so I am proud to say that on Wednesday Chancellor Sajid Javid is going to set out the most ambitious spending round for more than a decade.

I said I wanted to make your streets safer – and that is why we are recruiting another 20,000 police officers.

I said I wanted to improve your hospital and reduce the waiting times at your GP.

Mr Johnson made a dramatic intervention at No10 last night as he struggles to contain a Tory rebellion over No Deal Brexit

Mr Johnson made a dramatic intervention at No10 last night as he struggles to contain a Tory rebellion over No Deal Brexit

Mr Johnson made a dramatic intervention at No10 last night as he struggles to contain a Tory rebellion over No Deal Brexit

And so we are doing 20 new hospital upgrades in addition to the extra £34 billion going into the NHS.

And I said I wanted every child in this country to have a superb education and that’s why I announced last week that we are levelling up funding across the country and spending much more next year in both primary and secondary schools.

And it is to push forward this agenda on these and many other fronts that we need a Queen’s speech in October.

While leaving due time to debate brexit and other matters.

And as we come to that brexit deadline I am encouraged by the progress we are making.

In the last few weeks the chances of a deal have been rising, I believe, for three reasons.

They can see that we want a deal.

They can see that we have a clear vision for our future relationship with the EU – something that has perhaps not always been the case.

And they can see that we are utterly determined to strengthen our position by getting ready to come out regardless, come what may

But if there is one thing that can hold us back in these talks it is the sense in Brussels that MPs may find some way to cancel the referendum

Or that tomorrow MPs will vote – with Jeremy Corbyn – for yet another pointless delay

I don’t think they will. I hope that they won’t

But if they do they will plainly chop the legs out from under the UK position and make any further negotiation absolutely impossible

Mr Johnson delivered a typically tub-thumping performance

Mr Johnson delivered a typically tub-thumping performance

Mr Johnson delivered a typically tub-thumping performance

And so I say, to show our friends in Brussels that we are united in our purpose, MPs should vote with the government against Corbyn’s pointless delay.

I want everybody to know – there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on 31 October, no ifs or buts.

We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum

Armed and fortified with that conviction I believe we will get a deal at that crucial summit in October

A deal that parliament will certainly be able to scrutinise

And in the meantime let our negotiators get on with their work

Without that sword of Damocles over their necks

And without an election, which I don’t want and you don’t want

Let us get on with the people’s agenda – fighting crime, improving the NHS, boosting schools, cutting the cost of living, and unlocking talent and opportunity across the entire United Kingdom

With infrastructure education and technology

It is a massive agenda. Let’s come together and get it done – and let’s get Brexit done by October 31.

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