Jeremy Corbyn today told Labour activists he will not try to topple Boris Johnson until a No Deal Brexit has been ruled out.
The Labour leader insisted he wants a general election but he will only move to trigger one once he knows for certain that the UK will not leave the EU without an agreement on October 31.
His comments prompted a furious reaction from the Tories who accused Mr Corbyn of ‘repeatedly blocking’ a snap poll which could break the Brexit impasse.
Mr Corbyn’s address at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton came at the end of a chaotic day in British politics after the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful.
The bombshell ruling prompted widespread calls for Mr Johnson to resign or for MPs to try to boot him out.
But Mr Corbyn made clear this afternoon that he would not launch a vote of no confidence until a disorderly divorce is ‘off the table’.
He said: ‘This crisis can only be settled with a general election. That election needs to take place as soon as this government’s threat of a disastrous No Deal is taken off the table.
‘That condition is what MPs passed into law before Boris Johnson illegally closed down parliament. It’s a protection that’s clearly essential.’
MPs passed an anti-No Deal law earlier this month which will force the PM to ask the EU for a Brexit extension at a summit on October 17-18 if no agreement has been struck in the run up to Halloween.
But Remain-backing MPs fear Mr Johnson could try to ignore the law in a bid to deliver on his ‘do or die’ pledge to take the UK out of the bloc with or without a deal.
Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, Tory chairman James Cleverly said: ‘Corbyn has repeatedly blocked the country having its say in an election, because he doesn’t trust the people and won’t deliver the change they voted for.’
It came as a fresh war of words erupted between Mr Corbyn and Tom Watson after the Labour leader took his deputy’s speaking slot in the main hall.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured addressing Labour Party conference in Brighton today, demanded Boris Johnson resign in the wake of the Supreme Court’s judgement
Mr Corbyn was joined on stage after his Labour conference speech by his wife Laura Alvarez
Mr Corbyn’s children looked on from the front row as the Labour leader set out his vision for the UK
Mr Johnson has vowed to press on with his plans for Brexit despite the devastating ruling by the Supreme Court this morning.
The Prime Minister said he would abide by the judgement that his five-week prorogation of Parliament was ‘unlawful, void and of no effect’ but insisted he disagreed with the unanimous conclusion of the 11 judges.
Mr Corbyn claimed Mr Johnson believed he ‘could do whatever he liked just as he always does’.
He said: ‘This is an extraordinary and precarious moment in our country’s history.
‘The Prime Minister has been found to have acted illegally when he tried to shut down parliament.
‘The highest court in the land has found that Boris Johnson broke the law when he tried to shut down democratic accountability at a crucial moment for our public life.
‘The Prime Minister acted illegally when he tried to shut down opposition to his reckless and disastrous plan to crash out of the European Union without a deal. But he has failed. He will never shut down our democracy or silence the voices of the people.
Jeremy Corbyn’s key quotes from his 2019 Labour conference address
On the Supreme Court ruling: ‘This is an extraordinary and precarious moment in our country’s history.’
On the PM: ‘Boris Johnson has been found to have misled the country. This unelected Prime minister should now resign.’
On an election: ‘This crisis can only be settled with a general election. That election needs to take place as soon as this government’s threat of a disastrous No Deal is taken off the table.’
On a second referendum: ‘Only a vote for Labour will deliver a public vote on Brexit. Only a Labour government will put the power back into the hands of the people.’
On winning an election: ‘The tide is turning. The years of retreat and defeat are coming to an end. Together, we’ll take on the privileged, and put the people in power.’
‘The democracy that Boris Johnson describes as a “rigmarole” will not be stifled and the people will have their say.’
He added: ‘This unelected Prime Minister should now resign.’
He also tried to mend Labour divisions over his controversial Brexit policy as he said it was only by getting beyond the UK’s departure from the EU that the party’s priorities could be addressed.
He said: ‘Only a vote for Labour will deliver a public vote on Brexit. Only a Labour government will put the power back into the hands of the people. We can bring our country and our people together. Let’s stop a No Deal Brexit and let the people decide.
‘We must get Brexit settled not least because Brexit has dominated our politics for too long. The coming election will be a once-in-a-generation chance for real change.
‘A chance to kick out Boris Johnson’s government of the privileged few and put wealth and power in the hands of the many.’
Mr Corbyn’s Brexit plan will see the party remain neutral on the issue during the next general election.
Assuming Mr Corbyn wins the snap poll, a Labour government would legislate to hold a second referendum and then make a final decision on which way to campaign at a special one-day conference before the vote.
Mr Corbyn used his speech to set out and reiterate a series of expensive policy commitments designed to appeal to voters ahead of an early election which many people believe will happen before the end of the year.
Mr Corbyn closed his speech in Brighton by urging Labour activists to get ready to win a snap general election
Those policies included scrapping tuition fees, free social care for the elderly, tax hikes for the top five per cent of earners and the nationalisation of rail, mail, water and the national grid.
Mr Corbyn’s address to Labour conference was hurriedly rearranged after the Supreme Court dropped its legal bombshell.
The Labour leader had been due to deliver his speech tomorrow but it was brought forward after the Commons Speaker John Bercow said Parliament would resume tomorrow at 11.30am.
Jeremy Corbyn sets the stage for a general election with series of big spending commitments
The Labour leader’s 2019 conference speech was full of eye-catching, radical and expensive policies.
Here’s a selection of the announcements which will form the backbone of Labour’s offer at a snap poll:
Scrapping tuition fees
Free social care for the elderly
Tax hikes for the top five per cent of earners
Nationalisation of rail, mail, water and the national grid
A £10 Real Living Wage
Make prescriptions free in England
The Labour leadership moved a scheduled address by Mr Watson to tomorrow to make room for Mr Corbyn to speak today.
But Mr Watson rejected the proposed swap as he cancelled his speech and said he would rather return to Westminster.
Mr Watson tweeted: ‘It’s right that Jeremy’s speech has been moved to this afternoon. I will be with all Labour colleagues in Parliament tomorrow. I’ll have to save the speech until the next conference.’
Relations between the two men are now at an all time low after allies of Mr Corbyn failed in a bid to oust Mr Watson on the eve of conference.
The decision to resume Parliament tomorrow means the final day of Labour conference will be a damp squib.
There will still be speeches but the real action will be back in London – a fact seemingly acknowledged by the party leadership as they sang the socialist Red Flag song after Mr Corbyn’s speech.
It is usually only sung at the official close of proceedings.
Mr Corbyn was one of a number of opposition leaders to call on Mr Johnson to quit as they claimed his position had become untenable.
But Downing Street insisted there was no question of Mr Johnson – who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly – stepping aside.
A No 10 source said: ‘The PM will not resign following the judgment.’
While the Prime Minister, who will fly back to the UK overnight, said the return of MPs would go ahead, he made clear his unhappiness with the court’s ‘unusual judgment’.
‘I strongly disagree with this decision of the Supreme Court,’ he told reporters.
‘I have the utmost respect for our judiciary, I don’t think this was the right decision, I think that the prorogation has been used for centuries without this kind of challenge.
‘I think the most important thing is we get on and deliver Brexit on October 31, and clearly the claimants in this case are determined to frustrate that and to stop that.
Mr Corbyn set out a series of big ticket spending commitments as he prepared the Labour Party for an early general election
Lady Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, said that decision to prorogue Parliament was ‘unlawful, void and of no effect’
Boris Johnson, pictured in New York today, said he believes the Supreme Court’s ruling was wrong
‘I think it would be very unfortunate if Parliament made that objective which the people want more difficult but we will get on.’
Mr Johnson suggested he could try again to prorogue Parliament so that his new government can hold a Queen’s Speech and set out its domestic legislative priorities.
Should he proceed with such a move it is likely to spark widespread fury among Remain-backing MPs.
Announcing the Supreme Court’s ruling, Lady Hale said the overnment’s advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because ‘it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification’.
She said the prolonged suspension of parliamentary democracy took place in the ‘quite exceptional circumstances’ of the UK’s impending exit from the EU on October 31.
She added: ‘Parliament, and in particular the House of Commons as the elected representatives of the people, has a right to a voice in how that change comes about.
‘The effect upon the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme.’
Mr Bercow welcomed the court’s rejection of the government’s claim that the closure of Parliament was ‘standard practice’ to allow for a new Queen’s Speech setting out its plans for new laws.
‘In reaching their conclusion, they have vindicated the right and duty of Parliament to meet at this crucial time to scrutinise the executive and hold ministers to account,’ he said.
The SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford said once it was clear Parliament had blocked a No Deal Brexit, the opposition parties should combine to pass a vote of no confidence in the government.
‘We cannot tolerate this man who is behaving in an undemocratic manner, behaving like a dictator,’ he said.
‘He has to be removed from office and the opposition has to come together, the opposition has to do its job.’
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said: ‘The court have found what we all knew all along – Boris Johnson has again proven he is not fit to be Prime Minister.’
‘This shutdown was an unlawful act designed to stop Parliament doing its job and holding the Government to account.’
The Supreme Court ruling arose out of separate legal challenges in England and Scotland, in which leading judges reached different conclusions.
While the High Court in London found the prorogation was ‘purely political’ and not a matter for the courts, the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled it was unlawful because it was for ‘the improper purpose of stymieing Parliament’.