Labour could leave Boris Johnson to “stew in his own juices” while parliament is shutdown by again blocking a snap election, HuffPost UK has learned.
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg will table a fresh motion for an early poll on Monday, the day before parliament is due to be suspended for five weeks.
Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, Johnson must secure the backing of two-thirds of MPs to end a five-year term early.
Corbyn faced claims from Johnson that he was “chicken” when on Wednesday he refused to back a general election on October 15 until the bill blocking a no-deal Brexit was made law.
A source close to Corbyn said there was “massive distrust” in Johnson, with MPs fearing the PM could disobey the law as part of a “last stand” bid to force no-deal exit at Halloween.
They added Labour MPs may dig in on a snap poll until the UK and EU agree to delay Brexit beyond October 31.
“We’re discussing the pros and cons of the motion,” said the source. ”We are desperate for an election but on our own terms and we have to ensure that it will not allow Boris Johnson to crash us out of the EU with what he really wants - a no-deal Brexit.
“We’re in discussions with other parties and also reflecting on the view of the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) and shadow cabinet.
“There really is massive distrust in the prime minister. Many see this as a trap - Boris Johnson’s last stand.
“I think the phrase is ‘let him stew in his own juices’.”
Meanwhile, Johnson has doubled down on his hardline approach to refusing to ask Brussels for an extension.
“I would rather be dead in a ditch,” he said, during an event in Yorkshire.
He declined, however, to give a direct answer when asked if he would resign before requesting that delay.
Instead, he said: “It costs a billion pounds a month, it achieves absolutely nothing. What on Earth is the point of further delay? I think it’s totally, totally pointless.”
Corbyn has repeatedly demanded a general election since Theresa May’s 2017 campaign lost the Conservative Party its Commons majority.
Having wrested control of the Commons order paper this week, no-deal opponents are close to passing the new law, which will legally compel Johnson to avoid a no-deal crash-out at Halloween.
The bill won cross-party support after the leaked Yellowhammer report, which revealed the government’s own analysis predicts no-deal Brexit would lead to an immediate hard border in Northern Ireland, chaos at British ports, food shortages and rising care home costs, among much else.
But many fear Johnson will find a way to wriggle out of asking Brussels for an extension and there are competing views within the party about whether to back a general election.
“It partly depends on how the PM reacts to the Benn [anti-no-deal] bill - will he obey it or not,” said another source.
The bill says that Johnson must delay Brexit if, by October 19, MPs have not passed a Brexit deal.
One Labour MP told HuffPost UK the party was on the front foot and that backing an election before Halloween, and before the party has united around a new Brexit position, could empower Johnson.
“It makes no sense having seized control of parliament and triggered a meltdown of the Tory Party to allow them the escape hatch of a general election before the EU has agreed an extension of Article 50 beyond October 31,” the MP said.
“Once Labour formally adopts a Remain position at conference, our hand is strengthened and we can then put a motion of no confidence in the government to put the Brexit deal to a public vote, then have a general election.
“All options are now open to us if we turn this prorogation against the government and hang them out to dry over the recess.”
Former Tory special adviser Chris White, who worked for William Hague when he was Commons leader, said he believes Labour has done a deal with the Conservatives to back an election on Monday, however.
White told HuffPost’s Commons People podcast the abrupt end to the Tories’ attempts to talk out the anti-no deal bill on Wednesday night in the Lords suggested an agreement had been reached.
White, now Newington’s managing director of public affairs, said: “I think on Monday, it seems like they’ve done a deal because the filibuster abruptly stopped at 1.30am last night in the House of Lords and then the government has now said we’ll let you have the bill by 5pm (on Friday).
“I think a deal has been done where they let the bill get done, they give it royal assent, and then the election vote (goes through).
“That’s my betting, and I think Corbyn has won out over the Keir Starmer view.”