Jeremy Corbyn used the Brexit court case fallout today to sideline his deputy Tom Watson and force him to cancel a speech to party members likely to prove deeply uncomfortable to the Labour leader.
Mr Corbyn was due to give his own keynote address to the party conference in Brighton tomorrow but brought it forward to late this afternoon so he can be in London to attend parliament in the morning.
Organisers agreed to move Mr Watson’s speech to tomorrow to accommodate Mr Corbyn.
But with Mr Watson also needed back in Westminster when the Commons sits at 11.30, he was given little choice but to cancel the address.
He tweeted: ‘It’s right that Jeremy’s speech has been moved to this afternoon. I will be with all Labour colleagues in Parliament tomorrow. I’ll have to save the speech until the next conference.’
Corbynista Labour members are at war with the deputy leader, who is pushing for a second referendum in which the party backs Remain, while the leader wants to stay neutral for as long as possible.
There were plans at the conference for ultra hardcore supporters of the leader to stage a visible walk out during the deputy’s speech.
And he narrowly survived an attempt led by Momentum’s Jon Landsman ahead of the conference, to have him removed as deputy leader.
Earlier Labour’s conference had erupted into cheers and chants of ‘Johnson out’ today following the unprecedented Supreme Court ruling.
A gleeful Mr Corbyn rushed on stage, telling the PM to ‘obey the law, take no deal off the table, and have an election to elect a government that respects democracy, that respects the rule of law and brings power back to the people, not usurps it in the way that Boris Johnson has done.’
This was despite the fact that he has twice this month killed off attempts by Boris Johnson to call a general election because he wants to fully block a No Deal Brexit first.
Boris Johnson (pictured in New York last night) was humiliated as judges ruled unanimously he illegally prorogued Parliament in an ‘extreme’ move to ‘frustrate’ debate on Brexit .
Labour’s conference erupted into cheers and chants of ‘Johnson out’ today following the unprecedented Supreme Court ruling
Labour delegates cheered after the Supreme Court decision, at the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre this morning
Mr Watson had been due to make a plea for unity over Brexit, according to excepts released last night.
He was expected to say: ‘Turning in on ourselves is a gift to the Tories. I didn’t choose the row going into this vital week for our Party and our country, I didn’t want it, I didn’t seek it and I regret it.
‘It was damaging, divisive and unnecessary. Unfortunately we cannot pretend it didn’t happen. But let us now draw a line under it.’
Boris Johnson was humiliated as judges ruled unanimously he illegally prorogued Parliament in an ‘extreme’ move to ‘frustrate’ debate on Brexit.
There was widespread cheering and chanting as Mr Corbyn confirmed that the justices had ruled the five-week prorogation of Parliament was unlawful’ and that legally it had never been shut down.
He said the ruling showed Mr Johnson acted ‘wrongly in shutting down parliament’ and showed ‘a contempt for democracy and an abuse of power by him’.
To loud cheering from delegates and activists he said the ‘baton’ had been passed to Speaker John Bercow, adding: ‘I will be in touch immediately to demand Parliament is recalled so that we can question that prime minister, demand that he obeys the law that’s been passed by Parliament and recognises that our Parliament is elected by our people to hold our Government to account.’
Over the noise of a tumultuous conference hall he added: ‘I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to ‘consider his position’ and become the shortest serving prime minister there has ever been.’
Mr Corbyn told the Labour conference the decision showed Mr Johnson acted wrongly in shutting down parliament’ and showed ‘a contempt for democracy and an abuse of power by him’.
To loud cheering from delegates and activists he said the ‘baton’ had been passed to Speaker John Bercow, adding: ‘I will be in touch immediately to demand parliament is recalled so that we can question that prime minister, demand that he obeys the law that’s been passed by parliament and recognises that our parliament is elected by our people to hold our government to account.’
Minutes earlier in London, senior judge Lady Hale said the Prime Minister’s decision to ask the Queen to shut down the Commons for five weeks was ‘unlawful, void and of no effect’ with John Bercow pledging to recall MPs to the Commons immediately.
The opposition leader rushed on stage at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this morning after the bombshell decision was made in London
Over the noise of a tumultuous conference hall (pictured) Mr Corbyn said: ‘I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to ‘consider his position’ and become the shortest serving prime minister there has ever been.’
The Supreme Court president said: ‘The court is bound to conclude therefore that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions’, adding: ‘Parliament has not been prorogued’.
And in an unprecedented attack on the PM’s motives Lady Hale said: ‘The effect upon the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme. No justification for taking action with such an extreme effect has been put before the court’ – but she refused to say if he lied.
Arch-remainer Gina Miller, who helped defeat Mr Johnson, hugged her lawyer Lord Pannick QC in the courtroom as her victory over the Brexiteer Prime Minister was confirmed. Outside in Parliament Square her supporters cheered and chanted: ‘Johnson out’.
Jeremy Corbyn has already demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation as Mr Johnson woke up 3,500 miles away from London in New York where he will meet with President Donald Trump at the United Nations later.
Mr Johnson has already vowed not to resign from No 10 if he lost the case and is found to have misled Her Majesty – and will now be considering whether he can legally defy the court and ask the Queen to prorogue Parliament again.
The dramatic decision will also take attention away from Labour’s own muddled position on Brexit. Last night delegates voted not to make a decision on supporting Remain or Leave until after a general election, in a blow to party Remainers.