Good morning. With MPs returning to the House of Commons tomorrow, and the Brexit confrontation between Boris Johnson’s government and parliament set to climax in MPs trying to pass legislation this week to rule out a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, last night Johnson escalated hostilities by, as Jessica Elgot puts it, threatening to “blow up his own parliamentary majority and withdraw the whip from dozens of Conservative MPs if they back plans to stop no-deal Brexit”. Here is the full story.
Some of those Tory MPs planning to vote with the opposition to rule out a no-deal Brexit on 31 October are not backing down. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, posted this on Twitter at the weekend, after Johnson’s plan was first revealed in the Sun.
David Gauke, the former justice secretary, told the Andrew Marr Show yesterday that he would continue with his rebellion and last night the former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt backed him.
Rory Stewart, the former international development secretary, also said he was willing to lose the whip over this issue.
Yesterday Johnson also cancelled a meeting planned for today with the rebels. On the Today programme this morning Gauke said the PM was acting as if he wanted to lose the key votes this week so that he could trigger a general election. Gauke explained:
It’s a very odd way [of trying to win round rebel MPs]. Normally there would be plenty of cajoling, friends in the cabinet would be phoning up saying: ‘Come on, why won’t you support the government, give them a bit more time.’ None of that is happening. The usual operational isn’t particularly happening. It does seem to me that they’re almost goading people into voting against the government because I think their strategy, to be honest, is to lose this week and then seek a general election, having removed those of use who are not against Brexit, not against leaving the European Union, but believe we should do so with a deal.
Gauke’s analysis seems very reasonable, and it is in line with what many commentators are saying (for example, see this blogpost from the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, and this one from Robert Peston, her opposite number at ITV), but of course under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act calling an election is no longer straightforward. Johnson could only do it with opposition support and that would only be forthcoming if the timing of the election did not make a no-deal Brexit inevitable.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9am: Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, gives a speech on a no-deal Brexit at a Hope not Hate event in Liverpool.
9.30am: Tony Blair, another former Labour prime minister, gives a speech on Brexit. As HuffPost reports, he will say Labour should avoid the “elephant trap” of a snap general election that could be used to ram through a no-deal Brexit.
11am: Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech in Salford. As Jessica Elgot reports, he will argue that this week’s parliamentary confrontation is a “battle of the many against the few who are hijacking the referendum result to shift even more power and wealth towards those at the top”.
11am: Downing Street lobby briefing.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web, although mostly I will be focusing on Brexit. I plan to publish a summary at lunchtime and another when I wrap up late afternoon.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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