'Jeremy Corbyn has warned Boris Johnson that Labour will only vote for a snap general election once parliament has prevented a no-deal Brexit.
After Tuesday night’s overwhelming government defeat, Labour’s leader told the prime minister that his MPs would only vote it through once they have halted the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal.
Corbyn and Keir Starmer had earlier consulted lawyers and parliamentary clerks as they sought a way to support a general election while also halting Johnson’s plan to head towards a possible no-deal Brexit.
It follows fears, highlighted on Monday by the former Labour leader Tony Blair, that supporting government plans for a general election would give it a free hand to change the polling date during an election campaign.
After the government suffered a defeat of 328 votes to 301, Johnson immediately told the Commons that he would table a motion seeking a general election rather than accept a bill which would rule out a no deal.
Boris Johnson to seek election after rebel Tories deliver Commons defeat
Corbyn replied: “He wants to table a motion for a general election, fine. Get the bill through first in order to take no-deal off the table.”
Labour whips managed to hold down the number of rebels. Two Labour MPs – John Mann and Kate Hoey – voted with the government, while two others – Kevin Barron and Derek Twigg – abstained.
Starmer tweeted: “Hugely important first step in stopping Boris Johnson’s plan for a no-deal Brexit. Important we remain united in making sure the bill becomes law in the coming days.”
Earlier in the day, Labour’s leader and the shadow Brexit secretary were examining plans which might avoid leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October, as threatened by the prime minister.
It is understood that Labour wanted to use parliamentary procedure to force the Conservatives to hold an election on a particular date, instead of giving Johnson an option of moving it until after 1 November.
Labour’s chief whip, Nick Brown, told the parliamentary Labour party that they would not back the prime minister’s snap election plans if it might lead to a no-deal Brexit.
Clive Efford, the MP for Eltham, asked Brown about comments from Tony Blair in which the former Labour prime minister said supporting a general election would be an “elephant trap” because it would give the government a free hand to change the polling date during an election campaign.
Jeremy Corbyn 'will be delighted' to fight general election
Brown was applauded by a packed meeting after replying that Labour would not support a general election that could lead to a no-deal Brexit, a Labour source said.'
Read more: Corbyn to support snap election only if no-deal Brexit is blocked
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