Boris Johnson will demand an election again and again, warns Sajid Javid
The Chancellor said the stalemate over Brexit has reduced Westminster to a ‘zombie parliament’.
Chancellor Sajid Javid has said the Government will push “again and again” for a general election if the opposition denies Boris Johnson a pre-Christmas poll.
The Prime Minister said on Thursday he would give MPs more time to consider his Brexit deal if they agreed to an election on December 12.
But Labour – whose votes will be needed if he is to get the two-thirds majority in the Commons which he requires to go to the country – has yet to say what it will do.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he wants to see the terms of any Brexit extension offered by the EU before deciding which way to vote on Monday.
However reports from Brussels suggest the remaining EU 27 – who had been expected to announce a delay to the end of January on Friday – will now defer a decision until they see the outcome of the Commons vote.
Mr Javid said the stalemate over Brexit had reduced Westminster to a “zombie parliament”, and that it was now up to Labour to end the deadlock by agreeing to go back to the country.
With the Budget scheduled for November 6 having already been cancelled, the Chancellor suggested ministers would put other government business on hold until the issue was resolved.
“The Opposition have said, week after week, that if there is a delay of three months, which is what they requested through Parliament, then they will vote for a general election, so let’s see if they keep their word,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“And if they don’t then we will keep bringing back to Parliament a motion to have an election – and we will keep doing that again and again.
“As for other parliamentary business, we’ll have to wait and see what that is, and we will react to it at that time.”
While some around Mr Corbyn back a snap election, many Labour MPs are bitterly opposed to a poll, fearing confusion over the party’s position on Brexit will cost them at the ballot box.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said they needed an “explicit commitment” that a no-deal Brexit was off the table before they would be prepared to back an election.
She told the Today programme that that could require further legislation as promises by Mr Johnson were “not worth the paper they’re written on”.
She added: “The December day is a ludicrous day. We’ve not had a general election at Christmas for over a century, and there’s good reasons for that.”
Mr Javid said that if Labour MPs do not trust the Government they should agree to a general election.
“They can’t have it both ways,” he said.
“They can’t, on the one hand, make Parliament deliberately dysfunctional, turn it into a zombie parliament so we can’t get on with the business of governing, and, on the other hand, refuse to actually then have an election and bring an end to it.”
Mr Johnson’s challenge to MPs came amid signs that the EU27 were prepared to agree to extend the Article 50 withdrawal process to January 31, despite his objections.
The Prime Minister was forced by Parliament to write to Brussels requesting the delay after failing to win approval for his deal at last weekend’s special Saturday sitting.
However, many MPs say his proposed election timetable – which would require them to complete the ratification of his deal by November 6 when Parliament would be dissolved – still does not allow time for proper scrutiny.