BORIS Johnson tonight declared he would rather “die in a ditch” than bow to Parliament’s legal bid to delay Brexit.
The PM vowed to do everything he can to deliver Brexit on time – and challenged “chicken” Jeremy Corbyn to go to the public in a General Election if he wants to block it.
But in his most bruising day since taking power, he refused to say if he would resign as Prime Minister rather than return to Brussels and ask for a delay beyond October 31 if MPs ordered him to.
Labour and other Opposition parties met on Thursday and are likely to refuse him an election until after a crunch EU summit on October 17 in a bid to force through the extension.
But challenged by The Sun on a campaign trip to Yorkshire, Mr Johnson insisted he would never ask for another delay under any circumstances, saying: “I would rather be dead in a ditch.
“It costs a billion pounds a month, it achieves absolutely nothing, what on earth is the point of further delay? It is totally, totally pointless.”
After a terrible week for No10 which saw Remainer MPs seize control of Brexit, 21 Tories expelled for rebelling, and the PM’s brother quit, Boris scrambled to get on the front foot by visiting a police academy.
He plugged the billions he is pouring into cops, education and health.
And he said that only he – not Labour’s hard-left leader – can be trusted to deliver Brexit.
But the campaign visit backfired as the PM appeared to fluff his lines – and a female cadet standing behind him had to sit down after nearly passing out in the sunshine.
Earlier on a tour of Morley high street near Leeds, the PM was heckled by a local who shouted: “You should be in Brussels negotiating. You are not, you are in Morley, Leeds! You are playing games.”
Another local, in a clip that went viral last night on social media, shook Mr Johnson’s hand but said: “Please leave my town.”
The flustered PM answered: “I will, very soon.”
The extraordinary day came in a day of setbacks for No10:
- Boris Johnson was forced to scrap his weekend with the Queen in Balmoral to handle the Brexit crisis instead. He will now only have dinner with the 93 year-old monarch on Friday night and rush back to Downing Street on Saturday.
- Senior Cabinet Ministers Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan both refused to rule out Boris Johnson resigning next month rather than agreeing to extend the deadline for Brexit negotiations.
- Eurocrats lined up to slam the PM with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier telling EU ambassadors that talks with Britain were now in a “state of paralysis”.
SNAP ELECTION BACKED
In a rare victory, Mr Johnson’s bid for an early election was supported by one of the nation’s most renowned constitutional experts.
Oxford University’s Professor Vernon Bogdanor said: “This Parliament can achieve nothing. Only the people can sort this out and make a decision.”
And Mr Johnson insisted the only way to unite the country was to get Brexit done – and “move forward”.
Doubling down on the need to break the deadlock with an Election, Mr Johnson said: “The longer this goes on, the more dither and delay we have from Parliament, inspired I’m afraid by Jeremy Corbyn, the worse this thing will be.
“What people want to see is a resolution and they want to see us getting this thing done, and that is what we are going to do.”
Tory insiders admitted Boris is now facing the political battle of his life to deliver Brexit on time after losing control of Parliament.
BREXIT DELAY BILL
Rebel MPs on Wednesday seized control of parliamentary business to ram through a Bill forcing another Brexit delay.
And Conservative peers dropped their plans to oppose the Bill in the Lords so it can become law next Monday. Downing Street hope they can then win a majority for a snap poll.
Two-thirds of MPs would have to back the formal call for an Election in the Commons.
Tory and Labour whips held talks yesterday in an attempt to strike a deal that would pave the way an election for October 15.
But insiders said they were unlikely to bear fruit because “hardening” opposition among pro-EU Labour backbenchers desperate to delay an election beyond the current October 31 deadline.
They fear Boris Johnson could win an Election and then repeal the legislation blocking a No Deal exit.
A senior Labour source said: “Clearly the Tories are wanting to get some sort of agreement. The problem is nobody trusts the PM. I can’t see anyway they get the election.
“The trust just isn’t there. If this was Theresa May they might get somewhere because we’d trust her on the date.”
Another insider said: “The fact is the Tories are falling apart. Why do we want to pull them out of the river?”
RABBLE ALLIANCE PLOT
Jeremy Corbyn met the SNP’s Westminster boss Ian Blackford on Thursday and will on Friday have crunch talks with all other opposition leaders in a bid to form a united position on the election date.
An SNP source said the meetings with Mr Corbyn was about trying to find a legal “mechanism” that prevents the PM from pushing back the October 15 election after being triggered on Monday.
They said: “The SNP is ready for an election but will not be played by Boris Johnson.
“We’re considering all options and discussing with parties the best way to prevent a disastrous No Deal Brexit and get rid of the shambolic Tory government as soon as possible.”
The PM will step up his campaigning on Friday by announcing more than £50 million-worth of financial support for Scottish farmers on a visit to Aberdeen.
BOJO SKIPS BALMORAL
The Government is also due to confirm a £3.6 billion Towns Fund to support towns across England.
But in a sign of the growing tension, The Sun tonight revealed the PM was having to cut short his stay at Her Majesty’s Balmoral retreat in Scotland.
He had been due to arrive tomorrow to start a traditional three-day early Autumn stay.
But Mr Johnson will now only have dinner with the 93 year-old monarch on Friday night and rush back to Downing Street on Saturday morning after staying the night.
The Aberdeenshire trip was to be Mr Johnson’s first long stay with the Queen since taking office in July.
His girlfriend Carrie Symonds will accompany him on the annual September commute made by all Prime Ministers to Her Majesty on her long holiday.
Abandoning the full weekend is a big embarrassment for the PM.
But Buckingham Palace officials were “very understanding” about the change of plan because of the ongoing Westminster turmoil, a No10 source revealed.
most read in brexit
A No10 spokesman said: “The PM has accepted Her Majesty Queen’s invitation to visit Balmoral.
“He will have an audience of Her Majesty on Friday followed by dinner, before returning to London on Saturday.”
A Government source added: “This is a very busy time for the Government”.
- GOT a news story? RING us on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]