Brexit: Boris Johnson to try for 12 December election
(BBC) – The PM has said he will give MPs more time to debate his Brexit deal, if they agree to a 12 December election.
Boris Johnson told the BBC he expected the EU to grant an extension to his 31 October deadline, even though he “really” did not want one.
But Jeremy Corbyn said he would not support an election until a no-deal Brexit is “off the table”.
EU leaders could give their verdict on delaying Brexit for up to three months on Friday.
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs the government would on Monday table a motion calling for a general election.
Under the 2011 Fixed-Term Parliament Act, two-thirds of MPs must vote for a general election before one can be held.
In a letter to Labour leader Mr Corbyn, Mr Johnson said his “preferred option” was a short Brexit postponement “say to 15 or 30 November”.
But Mr Corbyn said: “Take no-deal off the table and we absolutely support a general election.
“I’ve been calling for an election ever since the last one because this country needs one to deal with all the social injustice issues – but no-deal must be taken off the table.
“The EU will decide whether there is an extension tomorrow… and then we can decide.”
Mr Johnson wrote that, in that case, he would try to get his deal through Parliament again, with Labour’s support.
The prime minister added that he “assumes” Mr Corbyn “will cooperate with me to get our new Brexit deal ratified, so we leave with a new deal rather than no deal”.
If, as widely expected, the EU’s Brexit delay is to the end of January, Mr Johnson said he will hold a Commons vote next week on a 12 December election.
If Labour agrees to this, the government said it will try to get its deal through before Parliament is dissolved for the campaign on 6 November.
Treasury sources told the BBC that the Budget would not now be delivered on 6 November as scheduled.
The prime minister told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg: “I’m afraid it looks as though our EU friends are going to respond to Parliament’s request by having an extension, which I really don’t want at all.
“So, the way to get this done, the way to get Brexit done, is, I think, to be reasonable with Parliament and say if they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal, they can have it but they have to agree to a general election on 12 December.”
Asked what he would do if Labour refused to vote for an election, he said: “We would campaign day after day for the people of this country to be released from subjection to a Parliament that has outlived its usefulness.”
The prime minister has repeatedly insisted the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal.
But he was forced to send a letter to the EU requesting an extension, under legislation passed by MPs last month.
MPs voted on Tuesday to back the first stage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, putting the deal the PM agreed with Brussels into law – but rejected Mr Johnson’s plan to push it through the Commons in three days.
The BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler says EU leaders are set to decide on Friday whether to grant the UK a three-month Brexit extension – although the decision could be delayed to Monday.
Most EU nations back it but France “is digging its heels in”, she adds.
So there could be an emergency summit in Brussels on Monday to allow leaders to reach agreement face-to-face.