- Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks
Opposition MPs and big-hitting former Conservative Cabinet ministers have said the prospect of Boris Johnson even considering breaking the law to force through Brexit is "extraordinary".
On another extraordinary day for British politics, it's emerged the prime minister has suggested he would never go to Brussels and ask for an extension - and thus would breach the law passed this week to force him to do just that.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The Act that was passed in all its stages in the House of Commons this week is now law and it requires him to apply for an extension in order to prevent a crashing out on the 31st October.
"We're in quite extraordinary territory when a prime minister says he is above the law."
Meanwhile, Lord Michael Heseltine,speaking at an anti-Brexit rally in Leeds, said: "If the British prime minister, or the lowest of our citizens, break the law they must be accountable."
He said it was not about whether he liked or disliked people involved or the situation around Brexit, but the "maintenance of the law".
He added: "If the Conservative party cannot understand that, then something fundamental has changed."
According to The Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister wrote to Tory members on Friday evening, telling them: “They just passed a law that would force me to beg Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. This is something I will never do.”
He told reporters on Friday he would not entertain seeking another deadline extension from Brussels, as the incoming law, expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday, compels him to if no agreement is in place by October 19.
- ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks says the next 24 hours will be critical in how Brexit plays out
Asked if he would obey the new law’s demand for him to write to EU leaders requesting more time, Mr Johnson said: “I will not. I don’t want a delay.”
If Mr Johnson fails to carry out the will of Parliament, he risks being taken to court. If a judge then ordered him to obey Parliament, he could be held in contempt and even jailed if he refused, reported The Telegraph.
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith encouraged Mr Johnson to break the law, saying he would be seen as a Brexit “martyr” if judges opted to put him in jail for breaching Parliament’s terms.
Mr Duncan Smith told the newspaper: “This is about Parliament versus the people. Boris Johnson is on the side of the people, who voted to leave the EU.
“The people are sovereign because they elect Parliament. But Parliament wants to stop the will of the people.”
But other ministers are said to take a different approach and want to see Mr Johnson reconciled with the 21 Conservative MPs he sacked this week after they rebelled against him.
The Times reported senior Government figures want Mr Johnson to “come up with a plan B” and distance himself from Tory Eurosceptics after he was boxed in by the Opposition.
The new law blocking no-deal will rule out an early election before the European Council summit on October 17 as Labour and other opposition parties want the threat of leaving the EU on October 31 to have expired before agreeing to a fresh poll.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru met on Friday and agreed to block the PM’s election request when it is put to the House of Commons again on Monday.
A similar motion was defeated by MPs on Wednesday, failing to make the two-thirds threshold needed to dissolve Parliament.
“Boris needs to make peace with the Tory rebels and get serious about making a deal with Brussels, even if that means throwing the Spartans [hardline Brexiteers] under a bus,” one Cabinet minister told The Times.
“Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s senior adviser, may be very clever but his plan has failed. We now need a plan B.”
Meanwhile, research from the British Chambers of Commerce has found a “concerningly high number” of UK businesses are not ready for a no-deal Brexit.
The survey of 1,500 firms found two-fifths had not done a Brexit risk assessment, with the Chambers’ director general Adam Marshall saying the research “yet again reinforces the importance of averting a chaotic exit on October 31st”.