Early Parliamentary General Election

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:14 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 5:14 pm, 28th October 2019

I can tell the House that we have an excellent deal for the whole of the UK and that we will campaign on the basis of that deal. If the hon. Gentleman wants more time to debate and scrutinise it, as I take it from his question he does, he can have it, but we must have 12 December as a hard stop, a parliamentary terminus, that everybody can believe in.

An election would fulfil exactly that purpose. It would allow a new Parliament and a new Government to be in place by Christmas. Without that hard stop of an election, without that moment of truth, the electorate will, I am afraid, have a sense that we are all like Charlie Brown, endlessly running up to kick the ball, only to have Parliament whisk it away yet again, only to find that Parliament is willing to go on delaying and delaying, to the end of January, to February and beyond. The frustration will go on, the anxiety will go on, and the angst and uncertainty felt by millions of people and businesses across the country will be unnecessarily and unfairly prolonged and exacerbated. That is what the Opposition’s course condemns the country to.

If I am wrong, the remedy is very simple: the Opposition—the Leader of the Opposition and all his cohorts on the Front Bench—can vote for this motion tonight. Then we can bring the Bill back and get Brexit done and then go our separate ways and make our cases to the country to reboot our politics in the way our people want. If he does not wish to take that opportunity —if he wants simply to delay Brexit and frustrate yet again the democratic will of 17.4 million people, frustrate democracy in this country—I am afraid we must have an election now. We cannot continue with this endless delay.

I don’t know about you, Mr Speaker, but I think the Leader of the Opposition has now run out of excuses for running away. First he said of the Benn Act:

“Let this Bill pass and gain Royal Assent, and then we will back an election”—[Official Report, 4 September 2019;
Vol. 664, c. 292.]

The Bill passed and gained Royal Assent, but he still shrank from an encounter with the voters. Then he said he would wait until the Act had been complied with. The letter was sent over a week ago—not my letter, of course, but Parliament’s letter—and he is still coming up with ever more ludicrous excuses for hiding from the British people. Now he says we have to take no deal off the table at the end of the transition period in December 2020. I repeat: he wants to take no deal off the table at the end of the transition period in December 2020. Of course I think his so-called anxieties are absurd, because I am confident that we will negotiate a fantastic new trade deal. [Interruption.] If the Opposition vote for this motion, we will bring the Bill back. We will negotiate a fantastic new trade deal that will bring thousands of new jobs to businesses and communities across this country.

Even if the Leader of the Opposition disagrees, would it not make sense, even according to his logic, for him to agree to an election now, so that he can have the opportunity to take no deal off the table himself? Is that not the logic of his position? He can run, but he cannot hide forever. Across Parliament, his supposed allies are deserting. The SNP, I now read, is in favour of an election. The Liberal Democrats are in favour of an election. What an incredible state of affairs. There is one party tonight that is actually against a general election. There is one party that does not trust the people of this country, and that is the principal party of opposition. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition accepts tonight that he is snookered and that this charade has gone on for long enough, and that he will agree to allow Brexit to get done and then allow us to make our cases to the people.

When that election comes, the people of this country will have to make a choice between a Government who deliver, a Government who not only got a great Brexit deal when others said it was impossible but who are putting 20,000 more police on the streets, delivering the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, investing £14 billion more in our schools and levelling up education funding across the country—a great one-nation Conservative Government, which is what we represent—and a Labour Opposition who would turn the year 2020 into a toxic, tedious torture of two more referendums, one on the EU and one on Scotland. That is the choice.

It is time for the Leader of the Opposition to move his rusty Trabant from the yellow box junction where it is currently blocking progress, and it is time for us to get Brexit done by 12 December and then go to the people. It is now overwhelmingly clear that the only way to get Brexit done is to go to the people of this country, and I believe it is time that we all, each and every one of us in this House, had the courage finally to face our ultimate bosses, the people of this country.

I commend the motion to the House.