Boris Johnson will continue campaigning for an election he is yet to successfully call, after a torrid day in which his brother resigned from Government while describing being torn between family and “the national interest”.
The Prime Minister will visit a farm in Aberdeenshire on Friday, to drum up support among voters, as opposition leaders continue their talks over how to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
Labour and the SNP could again on Monday refuse to back the PM’s renewed attempt to get an early election, because of concerns the poll should be delayed until a Brexit deadline extension has been secured.
The PM’s continued campaigning comes after a day of unwelcome events saw Jo Johnson quit as a senior minister attending meetings of his brother’s Cabinet.
The pro-EU Johnson described facing “unresolvable tension” and being “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”.
But Boris Johnson maintained his uncompromising stance on Brexit, saying in a televised speech that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than go to Brussels to ask for a further delay.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson was among those critical of the PM for having rows of police officers behind him during the political speech.
“It clearly turned into a rant about Brexit, the Opposition and a potential general election. There’s no way that police officers should have formed the backdrop to a speech of that nature,” he told the PA news agency.
Boris Johnson was also distancing himself from comments made by Mr Rees-Mogg, about a doctor he clashed with over no-deal Brexit contingency planning, a No 10 source said.
The Commons leader was forced to apologise after comparing Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist who helped write the Government’s Operation Yellowhammer plans, with disgraced anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield.
Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies wrote to the ardent Brexiteer to express her “sincere disappointment” about the “disrespectful way” he spoke about the doctor in the Commons.
In Aberdeenshire on Friday Mr Johnson will say Scottish farmers will receive an extra £51.4 million over the next two years, in addition to the £160 million announced in Wednesday’s spending round.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak with other opposition leaders in a phone call on Monday over no-deal and a general election strategy.
It is understood he will talk to the SNP’s Ian Blackford, the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts among others.
Boris Johnson tries to buy some fish
Mr Corbyn has taken the stance that the no-deal prevention Bill must become law before he supports a general election, while the SNP appears to be moving towards the same line.
The Times reported that Stephen Gethins, the party’s Europe spokesman at Westminster, said his first priority was “making sure no-deal is off the table”, adding: “We can’t trust Boris Johnson one bit.”
The Government will make a fresh attempt to call an early election on Monday, after a first failed bid to go to the country on October 15.
Mr Johnson will need the backing of two thirds of MPs to succeed.
Opposition parties are in talks about how to respond to Mr Johnson’s proposal, but are concerned that it should be delayed until after an extension has been secured to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
A cross-party bid to require the PM to ask for a Brexit extension if there is not a deal in place cleared the Commons on Wednesday, and is due to complete its progress through the Lords on Friday.