U.K.’s Johnson Tells Tories He Wants to Get on With Election

Kitty Donaldson, Alex Morales and Tim Ross

(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson told Conservative Party colleagues on Wednesday that he wants to push ahead with holding an early general election in order to resolve the parliamentary impasse over Brexit.

The prime minister believes that opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is running scared of a poll, and that it’s a chance for the Tories to win a majority in the House of Commons, according to two members of Parliament at the meeting who asked not to be named discussing a private gathering.

The Conservatives have relied since 2017 on the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to pass legislation. On Tuesday, they lost their combined majority when Philip Lee quit to join the Liberal Democrats.

Johnson then expelled 21 Conservative MPs who rebelled in a vote to thwart a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31. That’s left his government with a deficit of more than 40 in Parliament.

A person familiar with the matter said Johnson plans to keep pushing for a snap election next week if he fails to persuade Parliament to vote for one on Wednesday night.

Brinkmanship

Assuming that a rebel bill designed to block a no-deal Brexit passes the House of Commons, the premier assumes the only way of breaking the deadlock gripping British politics is to ask the people to elect a new Parliament, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing the sensitive issue.

Johnson is ready to try again to get the House of Commons to agree to an election on Monday, if, as expected, members of Parliament refuse to vote for a poll before then.

Johnson is facing defeat in the House of Commons again on Wednesday at the hands of opponents who are determined to block his strategy of taking the U.K. out of the European Union without a deal on Oct. 31. The rebel bill has already passed one stage and is set for another vote in the evening.

If he loses the vote, as seems likely, Johnson will ask members of Parliament to vote immediately for a general election instead. But that vote, too, is likely to leave him defeated. He needs two-thirds of MPs to support his plan and so far the opposition parties are refusing to agree.

Corbyn has said he wants an election but only once a new law is passed, to ensure Johnson cannot deliver a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31. According to the person familiar with the government’s thinking, the prime minister is expected to make clear that an election is the only option and to try again to secure one on Monday, by which time the anti no-deal law is likely to have passed.

Even on Monday he may be thwarted again.

That’s because Labour is thinking of not supporting an early election until the threat of a no-deal exit on Oct. 31 is eliminated, two opposition MPs familiar with the plan said. That means any election must be scheduled for after that date, once a delay to Brexit has been secured, the MPs said.

(Updates with Johnson’s plans starting in first paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Robert Hutton

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