Early Parliamentary General Election

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 7:51 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 7:51 pm, 4th September 2019

I beg to move,

That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.

The House of Commons has passed a Bill devised by the Leader of the Opposition, who, I see, is not in his place. He is characteristically evasive, if not frit. It is a Bill that effectively ends the negotiations; a Bill that demands an extension at least until next year, and perhaps for many more years to come; and a Bill that insists that Britain acquiesces to the demands of Brussels and hands control to our partners. It is a Bill designed to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history, the 2016 referendum. It is therefore a Bill without precedent in the history of this House, seeking as it does to force the Prime Minister, with a pre-drafted letter, to surrender in international negotiations. I refuse to do this. It is clear that there is therefore only one way forward for the country. The House has voted repeatedly to leave the EU, yet it has also voted repeatedly to delay actually leaving. It has voted for negotiations, and today, I am afraid, it has voted to stop—to scupper—any serious negotiations.

What this Bill means is that Parliament, or the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who is still not in his place—[Interruption.] I really do not know where he is. He refuses to give battle, or at least to engage in argument tonight. Perhaps that is a sign of how he intends to pursue things in the weeks ahead. [Interruption.] I am glad that he has now favoured the House with his presence. His Bill, among its other functions, will take away the right of this country to decide how long it must remain in the EU and hand that power to the EU. That is what it does, and I am afraid that it is time for this country to decide whether that is right.

The country must now decide whether the Leader of the Opposition or I go to those negotiations in Brussels on 17 October to sort this out. Everybody knows that if the right hon. Gentleman were the Prime Minister, he would beg for an extension and accept whatever Brussels demanded. We would then have years more dither and delay, yet more arguments over Brexit and no resolution to the uncertainty that currently bedevils this country and our economy. Everyone knows, by contrast, that if I am Prime Minister, I will go to Brussels and I will try to get a deal. Believe me, I know that I can get a deal. If they will not do a deal—I think it would be eminently sensible for them to do so, and I believe that they will—then, under any circumstances, this country will leave the EU on 31 October.

It is completely impossible for Government to function if the House of Commons refuses to pass anything that the Government propose. In my view, and in the view of this Government, there must be an election on Tuesday 15 October—I invite the Leader of the Opposition to respond—to decide which of us which goes as Prime Minister to that crucial Council on Thursday 17 October. I think it is very sad that MPs have voted like this—[Interruption.] I do; I think it is a great dereliction of their democratic duty. But if I am still Prime Minister after Tuesday 15 October, we will leave on 31 October with, I hope, a much better deal.

The Leader of the Opposition now has a question to answer. He has demanded an election for two years while blocking Brexit. He said only two days ago that he would support an election. Parliament having passed a Bill that destroys the ability of Government to negotiate, is he now going to say that the public cannot be allowed an election to decide which of us sorts out this mess? I do not want an election, the public do not want an election and the country does not want an election, but this House has left no option other than letting the public decide who they want as Prime Minister. I commend this motion to the House.