POLITICS
09/10/2019 22:30 BST

Jeremy Corbyn 'Champing At The Bit' For A General Election Once No-Deal Is Ruled Out

Labour leader to hit back at claims he is a "coward" for blocking snap poll.

Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn will claim he is “champing at the bit” for a general election - but only when a no-deal Brexit on October 31 has been avoided.

In a pre-election speech in Northampton on Thursday, the Labour leader will seek to hit back at Tory accusations he is running scared of voters and set out a series of policy commitments.

Boris Johnson has twice asked the Commons to approve an early election, but both times Labour blocked it.

The prime minister has branded Corbyn a “coward” for refusing to vote in favour.

Corbyn will use his speech tomorrow to say he will vote for an election once he can be sure the PM cannot time the campaign to force the UK out of the EU without a deal.

If parliament is suspended over the current exit date of October 31, then MPs would have no power to step in to try and block it.

The Labour leader will use the speech to set out a series of policies including holding a “final say” Brexit referendum.

Corbyn will say: “It wasn’t long ago that Johnson was pretending not to want an election. Now he is pretending that it’s Labour that doesn’t want one.

“So let me address this directly: prime minister, we can’t trust you not to break the law because you’ve got form.

“We can’t trust you not to use the period of an election campaign to drive our country off a no-deal cliff edge that will crash our economy destroy jobs and industries cause shortages of medicine and food and endanger peace in Northern Ireland.

“So it’s simple: obey the law, take no-deal off the table and then let’s have the election. We’re ready and champing at the bit. There’s only one reason it hasn’t happened yet – we can’t trust you.”

MPs are expected to be summoned to the Commons on Saturday October 19 to either vote on any deal agreed between the PM and the EU, or decide what steps to day.

It will be only the fifth time the Commons has sat on a Saturday since the outbreak of WWII.

The EU Council meeting in Brussels on October 17 and 18 is the last scheduled meeting of EU leaders before Britain is supposed to leave on October 31.

Johnson has pledged to take the UK out of the EU by the end of this month with or without a deal.

But the so-called Benn Act passed by MPs opposed to a no-deal exit requires Johnson to ask for a delay if no agreement has been reached by October 19.

Ministers have insisted Johnson will comply with the law, but Westminster has been gripped with speculation that No.10 will somehow try and bypass the legislation to avoid an extension.