Prime Minister's Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 25th September 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 6:30 pm, 25th September 2019

I think that the court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question, at a time of great national controversy.

So we have Opposition Members who block and delay everything, running to the courts to block and delay even more measures, including legislation to improve and invest in our NHS, and to keep violent criminals in jail. I think that the people outside this House understand what is happening. They know that nothing can disguise the truth.

It is not just that this Parliament is gridlocked, paralysed, and refusing to deliver on the priorities of the people. It is not just unable to move forward. It is worse than that, Mr Speaker. Out of sheer political selfishness and political cowardice, Opposition Members are unwilling to move aside and give the people a say. They see MPs demanding that the people be given a say one week, and then running away from the election that would provide the people with a say. Worst of all, they see ever more elaborate legal and political manoeuvres from the Labour party, which is determined, absolutely determined, to say “We know best”, and to thumb their noses at the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people. The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to throw out the referendum result, whatever the cost. They do not care about the bill for hundreds of millions of pounds that will come with every week of delay. They do not care if another year or more is wasted in arguing about a referendum that happened three years ago. All that matters to them now is an obsessive desire to overrule the referendum result. While we want to take our country up a gear—to go forward with a fantastic programme, an accelerated programme of investment in infrastructure, health, education and technology, they are throwing on the hand brake.

We will not betray the people who sent us here; we will not. That is what the Opposition want to do. We will not abandon the priorities that matter to the public, and we will continue to challenge those Opposition parties to uphold democracy. If Opposition Members so disagreed with this Government’s commitment to leaving on 31 October, they had a very simple remedy at their disposal, did they not? They could have voted for a general election. I confess that I was a little shocked to discover that the party whose members stood up in Brighton this week and repeatedly, and in the most strident terms, demanded an election—I heard them—is the very same party whose members already this month, not once but twice, refused to allow the people to decide on their next Government. For two years they have demanded an election, but twice they have voted against it.

The Leader of the Opposition changes his mind so often, I wonder whether he supports an election today, or whether the shadow Chancellor, or the shadow Attorney General, have overruled him again because they know that the voters will judge their manifesto for what it is—more pointless delay. Perhaps he is going to demand an election and then vote against it—just as he says that he wants to negotiate a new Brexit deal and then vote against that, too. Is he actually going to vote no confidence in this Government? Is he going to dodge a vote of no confidence in me as Prime Minister, in order to escape the verdict of the voters? I wonder, does he in his heart even want to be Prime Minister any more? He says that I should go to Brussels on 17 October and negotiate another pointless delay, but he does not want to go himself. And even if he did, his colleagues would not let him, because quite frankly they recoil at the idea of him negotiating on the people’s behalf, representing this country with the likes of Vladimir Putin, let alone the EU or the mullahs of Tehran.

Or is it perhaps that he wants a Conservative Government? It would be a curious state of affairs indeed if Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition had every faith in the Government of the day. So if in fact the party opposite does not have confidence in the Government, it will have a chance to prove it. It has until the House rises—[Interruption.] I think they should listen. It has until the House rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the Government—[Interruption.] Come on! Come on, then. And we can have that vote tomorrow. Or if any of the smaller parties fancy a go, they can table that motion and we will give them the time for a vote. Will they have the courage to act, or will they refuse to take responsibility and do nothing but dither and delay? Why wouldn’t they act? What are they scared of? If that is what you are scared of, then have the—