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PM will push for December election 'again and again', warns Javid

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets European Council president Donald Tusk. Credit: PA

Chancellor Sajid Javid has said the Government will push "again and again" for a general election if the opposition denies Boris Johnson a pre-Christmas poll.

The Prime Minister challenged MPs to back his call for a December 12 vote in return for more time to scrutinise his Brexit deal as he tried to break the deadlock.

But Labour - whose votes will be needed if he is to get the two-thirds majority in the Commons which he requires to go the country - has yet to say what it will do.

The impasse comes as EU leaders are expected to announce a decision over a Brexit delay, in a move that could have a bearing on whether Mr Johnson gets his pre-Christmas general election.

Mr Javid said the stalemate over Brexit had reduced Westminster to a "zombie parliament", and that it was now up to Labour to end the deadlock by agreeing to go back to the country.

In a threat interpreted as the Government effectively going on strike if it loses, a spokesman for the PM said: “Nothing will come before Parliament but the bare minimum.

“We will pursue a general election every day from then onwards and do everything we can to get it.”

And that position seemed to be supported by Chancellor Sajid Javid who said the Government will "keep bringing a motion to Parliament" for an election.

"We'll bring forward a motion on Monday to have this general election - and if Labour keeps its word then they should be backing this call for an election. Remember, this is already the first opposition in British history that has not wanted a general election.

"If they don't back that call for a general election then we will keep bringing a motion to Parliament because we need that election, we need to get Brexit done, we need the British people to decide."

Jeremy Corbyn said his decision would come after inspecting the terms of any extension to Article 50 granted by Brussels, which he was expecting to come on Friday.

The PM said the outcome of the announcement was “likely” to be the delay until January 31 which he was compelled to request by Parliament.

Though his latest gambit, which saw him shelve his pledge to deliver Brexit by the October 31 deadline “do or die”, could have provoked the EU to rethink and delay the announcement.

Credit: PA Graphics

A No.10 source said this would include the scrapping of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which is required to ratify the deal.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the Labour Party needs an "explicit commitment" that a no-deal scenario is ruled out.

She told the BBC's Today programme: "The Labour Party is definitely up for an election, but there are two things we need to know.

"One is what sort of extension the EU is going to give and as you say we won't know until Monday."

Ms Abbott said they also want to hear from the Prime Minister that he will take no deal off the table.

"But be in no doubt, party members, and the party as a whole, is ready for and keen for an election," she said

Mr Johnson was compelled to ask for the delay by the Benn Act after he failed to get approval for his Brexit timetable at Saturday’s special sitting of Parliament.

But in a move to win over MPs, he has offered them until November 6 to debate and vote on his deal.

Then Parliament would be dissolved, paving the way for the first December election since 1923.

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If Mr Corbyn does not back the FTPA on Monday, it will be the third time he has been offered a general election and refused.

“Take no-deal off the table and we absolutely support a general election,” he said.

Mr Johnson said it would be “morally incredible” if opposition MPs refused to go along with his plan now.

But they lined up to reject his proposed timetable, criticising it for still giving too little time for proper scrutiny of the Bill in Parliament.

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The SNP, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, all roundly refused to give their backing to the Mr Johnson’s plan.

Dominic Grieve, one of the 21 MPs exiled from the Tories by the PM, also said he would not back the election plan, describing to BBC’s Newsnight as a form of “blackmail”.