Boris Johnson has confirmed he will pull his Brexit bill if MPs vote down the accelerated timetable for the legislation and exit day is delayed until January or later.
The prime minister told the Commons on Tuesday afternoon in those circumstances he would instead push once more for a general election in order to “get Brexit done”.
MPs are set to vote on Tuesday evening on Withdrawal Agreement Bill - the legislation that writes Johnson’s Brexit deal into UK law.
They will be also asked to vote for the programme motion which would fast-track the bill through the Commons in just three days.
Labour has complained the short timetable is not long enough to properly scrutinise the 110-page bill and is a “gross abuse of power”.
The government is braced to lose the second vote due to take place at around 7.15pm.
Speaking in the Commons, Johnson said approving the programme motion was the only way to ensure the UK left the EU on October 31 as he has promised.
“I will in no way allow months more of this. If parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen and instead gets its way and decides to delay leaving until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this,” he said.
“With great regret I must say the bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election.”
The prime minister’s comments leave open the possibility he could accept a shorter technical extension to Article 50 between now and the New Year to push his legislation through the Commons.
EU leaders are waiting to see the outcome of this evening’s votes in London before deciding what, if any, extension to offer.