BORIS Johnson has infuriated Remainers by shutting down Parliament for five weeks but now faces a battle for Brexit.
The PM has flown home from meeting Leo Varadkar in Dublin this afternoon before another crunch Commons vote on holding a snap election.
Remainers and Tory rebels want the PM to go to Brussels and beg for a Brexit extension but the PM said he’d rather be “dead in a ditch”.
Last week was a tough one for BoJo with his brother resigning as an MP and then Amber Rudd quitting the Cabinet on Sunday.
While the clock ticks down to October 31, what is the PM’s strategy?
After repeatedly saying he did not want an election – Boris sees a national vote as the best way for him to regain control of the Commons and deliver Brexit.
Last week he became so incensed with Jeremy Corbyn’s poll dodging that he blasted the Labour boss as a “chicken” and “big girl’s blouse”.
The PM wants a snap election on October 15 and is asking MPs to back his plan in a vote tonight.
But he is unlikely to win because opposition leaders, led by Corbyn and Lib Dem boss Jo Swinson, will not support a poll until a three-month Brexit extension has been granted.
Johnson, who has point-blank refused to go cap in hand to the EU, needs two thirds of the house to support his election plans under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA).
Last week his rallying cry to go to the polls was rejected by MPs with only 298 supporting a vote – far short of the 434 he needed.
Three months could prove to be useful campaigning time for the PM – with voters unlikely to hold it against him if he fought the extension and lost.
He could also use that time to blame the agony of Brexit on the campaigning of bitter Remainers like Corbyn and Swinson.
If, as predicted, Boris loses again tonight there is another route he could take to secure an election.
Theoretically he could temporarily halt the Parliament shutdown and instead push forward legislation for MPs to vote on.
The legislation would allow him to manoeuvre around the FTPA and would set out a date for an election.
However, in this instance he would only need a majority for the law to pass – not two thirds, the Daily Mail reports.
Boris was slammed on both sides of the house after giving 21 Tory rebel MPs the chop for voting against the government in last week’s crucial Commons showdown.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd resigned in disgust over the move on Sunday before firing off a parting shot and claiming “80-90 per cent” of No10’s Brexit planning was dedicated to No Deal.
After Jo Johnson’s resignation – citing his brother’s Brexit strategy as reason – Rudd’s quitting did very little to settle the ship at No10.
Her resignation is unlikely to worry too many Tory voters, but her departure may not be the last to hit the party at a crucial point in the battle for Brexit.
It also looks like she could be followed out of the door by Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith and Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan.
IS TIME RUNNING OUT FOR A DEAL?
The PM has said repeatedly he wants a deal with Brussels and reiterated this when he met with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today in Dublin.
Boris described No Deal as a “failure of statecraft” for both sides and told the Irish PM: “I have one message that I want to land with you today Leo and that is that I want to find a deal.”
Boris has previously said Britain will be leaving the bloc “do or die” by October 31, but the Northern Irish backstop remains one of the most controversial stumbling blocks.
A glimmer of hope was provided today when Mr Varadkar said he was open to “alternatives” to the backstop as long as they were “realistic”.
Remainers are desperate for a Brexit extension to hammer out futher plans, but this plot was shot down by EU chiefs yesterday.
Guy Verhoftstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit co-ordinator, said another delay would be “unacceptable unless the deadlock in London is broken”
FRESH DEAL AFTER OCTOBER 31
If a Brexit extension is agreed and then an election is staged, a new deal could be brokered.
Boris, bolstered by a majority, or a new PM could build new Brexit negoations with the EU – if they are open to them.
PM WON’T BREAK NO DEAL LAW
A law designed to stop a No Deal Brexit was rammed through the Commons last week.
Boris warned it would “scupper negotiations” but the bill passed all stages in the Commons and will be granted Royal Assent today.
Once that happens the PM will be legally required to go to Brussels and ask for the date to be pushed back.
If he fails to do this he would trigger a Supreme Court challenge.
MOST READ IN POLITICS
It is believed the PM would prefer the legal route and risk the biggest constitutional crisis in centuries in the process.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denied No10 would break law – simply insisting they would push to its limit.
He said “But because this is such a bad piece of legislation, we will also want to test to the limit what it does actually lawfully require.”
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.