Brexit delay decision expected after Boris Johnson’s call for December election

The EU’s decision was anticipated to come on Friday but the Prime Minister’s latest gambit may have changed this.

Boris Johnson and Donald Tusk
Boris Johnson and Donald Tusk

EU leaders are expected to announce a decision over a Brexit delay, in a move that could have a bearing on whether Boris Johnson gets his pre-Christmas general election.

The Prime Minister challenged MPs to back his call for a December 12 vote in return for more time to scrutinise his Brexit deal as he tried to break the deadlock.

Mr Johnson will need Labour votes if he is to win the attempt on Monday, with a “super majority” of two-thirds of MPs required to get an election under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (FTPA).

Jeremy Corbyn said his decision would come after inspecting the terms of any extension to Article 50 granted by Brussels, which he was expecting to come on Friday.

The PM said the outcome of the announcement was “likely” to be the delay until January 31 which he was compelled to request by Parliament.

Though his latest gambit, which saw him shelve his pledge to deliver Brexit by the October 31 deadline “do or die”, could have provoked the EU to rethink and delay the announcement.

In a threat interpreted as the Government effectively going on strike if it loses, a spokesman for the PM said: “Nothing will come before Parliament but the bare minimum.

“We will pursue a general election every day from then onwards and do everything we can to get it.”

Brexit timeline: key dates
(PA Graphics)

A No 10 source said this would include the scrapping of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which is required to ratify the deal.

Mr Johnson was compelled to ask for the delay by the Benn Act after he failed to get approval for his Brexit timetable at Saturday’s special sitting of Parliament.

But in a move to win over MPs, he has offered them until November 6 to debate and vote on his deal.

Then Parliament would be dissolved, paving the way for the first December election since 1923.

If Mr Corbyn does not back the FTPA on Monday, it will be the third time he has been offered a general election and refused.

“Take no-deal off the table and we absolutely support a general election,” he said.

Mr Johnson said it would be “morally incredible” if opposition MPs refused to go along with his plan now.

But they lined up to reject his proposed timetable, criticising it for still giving too little time for proper scrutiny of the Bill in Parliament.

The SNP, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, all roundly refused to give their backing to the Mr Johnson’s plan.

Dominic Grieve, one of the 21 MPs exiled from the Tories by the PM, also said he would not back the election plan, describing to BBC’s Newsnight as a form of “blackmail”.

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