Boris Johnson has called on MPs to “get on and deliver” Brexit amid reports a general election could take place within days of Britain leaving the EU.
The Prime Minister has been resisting opposition demands to call an election ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – set for October 31.
But No 10 aides have indicated polling could take place just days later if he is forced to go to the country by a no-confidence vote by MPs, according to the Financial Times.
That could thwart attempts by opposition MPs and Tory rebels to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal if no agreement has been reached with Brussels by then.
“We can’t stop them forcing an election but we control the timetable so we will force the date after October 31,” one senior No 10 official is quoted as saying.
“If there must be a general election, then it will be days after October 31.”
This follows reports that MPs opposed to no deal are working on a plan to force Parliament to sit through the autumn break for the party conference season.
That would be designed to give MPs more time to prevent Mr Johnson taking Britain out of the EU without a deal on October 31, according to The Guardian.
It is said to reflect concern at the hardline tactics of the Prime Minister’s top adviser Dominic Cummings, who masterminded the successful 2106 Vote Leave referendum campaign.
Mr Cummings is said to have told Mr Johnson that even if he is defeated in a vote of confidence when the Commons returns in September, he should delay a general election until after October 31 by which time it will be too late to stop Brexit.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to a science centre in Abingdon, Mr Johnson sidestepped questions as to what he would do in the event of a no-confidence vote.
Instead he urged MPs to honour the 2016 referendum vote and finally deliver Brexit.
“We are going to leave the European Union on October 31 which is what the people of this country voted for, it’s what MPs voted for, and that’s what I think parliamentarians of this country should get on and do,” he said.
“I think that MPs should get on and deliver on what they have promised over and over and over again to the people of this country, they will deliver on the mandate of 2016 and leave the EU on October 31.”
His call came amid growing outrage at the prospect that he could try to ignore the will of Parliament, potentially triggering a major constitutional crisis.
On Wednesday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell warned that if Mr Johnson was defeated in a vote of confidence, Labour would insist on Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister.
“I don’t want to drag the Queen into this but I would be sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace to say we’re taking over,” he told an event at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.