Boris Johnson’s secret plan to hold an election on October 17, win it – and then go back to the EU to demand new Brexit concessions before UK leaves on October 31
- The PM would go to the country on October 17, win and then head to Brussels to demand 11th-hour Brexit concessions
- However the plan involves deliberately ‘losing’ a Commons no-confidence vote
- The ‘lose-to-win’ strategy emerged as Mr Johnson prepares for a possible Labour no-confidence motion
Secret plans to break the Brexit deadlock by holding a General Election during a critical EU summit have been drawn up by advisers to Boris Johnson.
Under the scenario, the PM would go to the country on October 17, win and then head to Brussels to demand 11th-hour Brexit concessions.
However the plan – to stop MPs from blocking No Deal – involves first deliberately ‘losing’ a Commons no-confidence vote that the Tories engineer themselves.
It would represent an extraordinary gamble that the Labour leader can’t repeat his surprise 2017 Election performance and slash the Tory lead – or even emerge as the winner.
The ‘lose-to-win’ strategy – one of several scenarios now being plotted by advisers in No 10 – emerged as Mr Johnson prepares for a possible Labour no-confidence motion next month when MPs return from their summer break.
Secret plans to break the Brexit deadlock by holding a General Election during a critical EU summit have been drawn up by advisers to Boris Johnson. French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Biarritz lighthouse (pictured)
No 10 had been braced for the Labour leader to seize on anxiety over a No Deal Brexit by tabling a vote to bring down Mr Johnson’s Government less than two months from its inception.
However, the Prime Minister’s inner circle now suspect that Mr Corbyn could back out of the no-confidence threat for fear he will not win it – and instead push for a second referendum to stop Brexit.
Former Chief Whip Gavin Williamson, now Education Secretary, has told No 10 that, on current figures, the Government would triumph in such a Commons vote.
So instead, the Prime Minister’s advisers have devised a plan to encourage Mr Corbyn to table the vote and then allow Labour to achieve a shock win.
They have also calculated that, to hold the poll on October 17 to coincide with the two-day EU summit starting that day, the confidence vote would have to be held by September 12.
Under the scenario, the PM would go to the country on October 17, win and then head to Brussels to demand 11th-hour Brexit concessions
That would comply with the strict terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act which requires a 14-day period after a PM loses a confidence vote before an Election can be called.
Key to the plan would be the Tories being able to say the pre-Brexit Election was forced on them by Labour.
One source said: ‘It’s a risk but the beauty of this is being able to go to the country with the avowed aim of getting Brexit over the line.
We could portray Corbyn and Labour for what they are – deniers of democracy who are ready to ignore the 2016 Leave referendum result.
And with a Tory majority, a triumphant Boris would be able to arrive in Brussels early on October 18 and persuade EU leaders to give us a proper deal as they could no longer pretend the UK Parliament will rescue them.
Boris pictured with other leaders at the G7 dinner
‘Boris would tell them this is your final chance to shift. The risk is that it would hand Corbyn the perfect chance to block Brexit.’
The summit starting on October 17 is the first meeting of the EU council since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister – and also the last before the Brexit cut-off.
However, other No 10 advisers are said to prefer the alternative of an immediate post-Brexit Day Election on Friday, November 1 – despite the convention of holding General Elections on Thursdays.
That would seek to capitalise on Mr Johnson having achieved the UK’s departure from the EU by squeezing the remaining Brexit Party vote on the basis that there was no longer any point in voting for them.
However the plan – to stop MPs from blocking No Deal – involves first deliberately ‘losing’ a Commons no-confidence vote that the Tories engineer themselves
Labour MPs in Brexit-voting constituencies in the North and Midlands are also anxious that Mr Johnson will be able to appeal to their traditional voters who backed Leave.
That follows mounting anxiety that Labour is mistakenly becoming the party of Remain.
The next General Election is not due until 2022. But MPs on both sides of the House now suspect a poll this autumn is increasingly likely to resolve the Brexit stalemate.
Backers of Mr Johnson say his arrival in No 10 has given the Tories a real chance of ‘crushing’ Mr Corbyn.
However, others are worried that unless the UK does finally leave the EU, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party may destroy any hopes of Mr Johnson achieving a majority.