Boris Johnson has said the prospect of a general election to break the Brexit deadlock is “crazy” as he suggested his plan to leave the EU will win support from MPs as the issue poses an “existential threat” to both Labour and the Tories.
Asked at the party’s digital hustings about an election or suspending parliament in order to prevent it blocking Brexit, the Tory leadership frontrunner said: “It would be absolutely crazy for any of us to think of going to the country and calling a general election before we get Brexit done.”
He added that the Conservatives “need to be ready to wallop Corbyn for six”.
The wannabe PM also said that politics had “changed” since March 29 – the original deadline for the UK to leave the EU.
“I think that colleagues do see that we are facing – not just the Tory Party but also Labour – we are facing an existential threat.
“We all need to get this thing done and we need to move forward and that’s why I think they will want to get Brexit over the line on October 31 and then move forward.”
It comes after both Labour and the Tories faced heavy defeats in the European elections, with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and the pro-EU Lib Dems topping the tables, with the two main parties also falling in the polls.
At the later event, the former foreign secretary failed to completely rule out ‘proroguing’ parliament – the official phrase for shutting down the Commons – instead saying that MPs “really are starting to come together”.
“They are thinking about this in a very mature and sober way,” Johnson said. “I am not attracted to archaic devices like proroguing.”
Meanwhile, Johnson said he did not want to cancel parliament’s summer recess in order to secure the support of MPs behind his Brexit plan, suggesting parliament was part of the problem – not the solution.
“I think we can get this thing done without having to resort to such a desperate expedient,” he said.
During the hustings – one of 16 before the winner of the Tory leadership race is announced at the end of July – Johnson said there was a “million-to-one” chance of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Earlier in a hustings meeting of the Association of Conservative Peers, Johnson said “it would be absolutely insane” to hold an election before Brexit was delivered.
The former Mayor had also warned that the Labour leader was lying in wait to exploit any Conservative division: “Corbyn’s like a crocodile, he’s lurking under the water.”
Hereditary peer Earl de la Warr rounded on his rival Jeremy Hunt, declaring that he had been wrong to be personally critical of Johnson in recent days.
Hunt replied: “I’ve had a million opportunities in recent days to pick holes in my opponent’s private life. And I haven’t.”
However, one former minister in the Lords said after the meeting that Hunt had impressed him. “My thing about Boris is he can’t keep his trousers on,” he said.
Johnson had peers laughing with a long joke about claims that no-deal would mean a shortage of glucose and whey needed for Mars Bars. “Where there’s a will, there’s a whey,” he said.
But he ducked a question from House of Cards author and Tory peer Michael Dobbs, who had asked: “Are you going to woo the Brexit Party or stamp them out?”