POLITICS
25/09/2019 18:45 BST | Updated 25/09/2019 23:34 BST

Boris Johnson Offers Opposition The Chance To Bring Him Down In Vote Of No Confidence

Prime minister gives Jeremy Corbyn and other opposition MPs the opportunity to collapse the government.

Boris Johnson has offered opposition MPs the opportunity to try and bring down his government in a bid to end the Brexit crisis.

The prime minister will offer Jeremy Corbyn the time to hold a vote of no confidence in the government and, in a break with convention, also give smaller parties the opportunity to trigger a vote.

Johnson said they have until the Commons finishes on Wednesday to table a motion of no confidence for a debate and vote on Thursday.

If anyone takes up his offer and the vote passes, it would trigger a 14 day period in which opposition parties and Tory rebels could unite behind an alternative government of national unity.

But the prospect appears unlikely with Corbyn unwilling to stand aside to allow a unity figure such as Ken Clarke to take the helm, while the likes of the Liberal Democrats and Tory rebels do not want to put the Labour leader in Downing Street.

If no one can command a majority in the Commons a general election will be held.

PA Wire/PA Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons, London, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

In his Commons statement, the PM said: “If the party opposite (Labour) does not in fact have confidence in the government, they will have a chance to prove it.

“They have until the House rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the government, and we can have that vote tomorrow.

“Or if any of the other smaller parties fancy a go, table the motion, we’ll give you time for that vote.

“Will they have the courage to act or will they refuse to take responsibility yet again and do nothing but delay?

“Let’s have a vote – a proper one, not the kind of dodgy show of hands we saw at their conference – and see where that leads.

“Why would they not? What are they scared of?

He went on: “It is time for this parliament finally to take responsibility for its decisions.

“We decided to call that referendum. We promised to respect it.

“The people have had enough of it — this parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done. Or bring a vote of no confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.”

Labour immediately rejected the offer. “It’s a transparent ploy that smacks of desperation,” a source said.

Only the SNP indicated a willingness to act, suggesting “the opposition must unite to trigger a vote of no confidence to bring this chaotic government down” if Johnson failed to resign.

Johnson also attacked the Supreme Court for deciding his suspension of parliament earlier this month was unlawful and void.

“Despite the fact that I followed the exact same process as my predecessors in calling a Queen’s Speech, the Supreme Court was asked to intervene in this process for the first time ever,” he said.

“It is absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say I think the court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question at a time of great national controversy.” 

Responding to Johnson’s statement, Corbyn said he would back an election once Johnson delayed Brexit to take no deal off the table.

“He says we should hold a general election, I want a general election,” the Labour leader said.

“It’s very simple, if he wants an election get an (Article 50) extension and let’s have an election.”

Corbyn also insisted Johnson “should have done the honourable thing” and resign over the Supreme Court judgment.

“Unfortunately it was like his illegal shutting down of parliament - null, of no effect and should be quashed - in the words of Supreme Court,” he said.

“This was 10 minutes of bluster from a dangerous prime minister who thinks he is above the law but in truth is not fit for the office he holds.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Let me be clear to the prime minister that he should resign but if he fails to do so, yes the opposition must unite to trigger a vote of no confidence to bring this chaotic government down.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas described Johnson’s speech as “seriously dangerous”, indicating she would not take up the offer.

She tweeted: “Utterly shameless and shocking speech from a bullying and bombastic PM - completely at odds with his claims that he wants to bring the country together, whipping up hatred, pedalling lies, and undermining parliament. This is seriously dangerous stuff.”

Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts signalled her party would reject Johnson’s offer, which she described as “incontinent goading”.