Corbyn ‘ready to fight election’ despite concerns over Johnson move

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he is ready to fight a general election after concerns a move to trigger a poll by Boris Johnson could be a ploy to force through a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader expressed his confidence that MPs will this week deal the Prime Minister a major blow by passing legislation to block a deal-less departure from the EU on Halloween.

Critics of Mr Johnson had raised fears that an election mooted for October 14 if opponents win this week’s parliamentary showdown could be a move to delay the date and force a no-deal.

But Mr Corbyn confirmed he has sought legal advice, and the PA news agency understands the party is confident there are mechanisms to prevent the election date being shifted.

In an interview after cross-party talks with no-deal opponents on Tuesday, Mr Corbyn said he “fully expects” the legislation would be passed this week.

Mr Corbyn stressed the legislation was “the priority” when asked if Labour was ready to support a vote for a general election under any circumstance.

Boris Johnson
There are concerns the PM cannot be trusted (Victoria Jones/PA)

“Let’s see what happens after this legislation has gone through and if an election is called, I’m absolutely ready to fight it,” he added.

Mr Corbyn confirmed Labour has sought guidance from lawyers over election timetable fears.

“We are looking at all the legal advice we are receiving at the present time but I think the important thing is to stop a no-deal exit and let the people of this country decide their own future,” he said.

Although dismissed by Downing Street insiders as “tinfoil hat stuff”, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth was among those urging caution over the possibility the PM may shift the election date.

“If he wants a general election to ram through what I believe is a disastrous no-deal Brexit which will lead to medicine shortages, food shortages, chaos for people at the borders, then we are not prepared to endorse that trick,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One.

“The problem is that trust is so low in Boris Johnson that nobody quite believes him.”

Mr Corbyn said there was “a very good discussion” during the cross-party talks attended by MPs including Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and Independent Group for Change’s Anna Soubry.

Today's cross party meetings are moving us towards stopping Boris Johnson from forcing through a catastrophic no deal Brexit.

The SNP will not allow the crippling chaos of Westminster to drag Scotland out of the European Union against our will. pic.twitter.com/IXc0hftY7g

— Ian Blackford (@IanBlackfordMP) September 3, 2019

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who also attended, celebrated the meeting as “another vital and productive step in working together to prevent this rogue Tory Government from inflicting lasting harm”.

Mr Corbyn declined to set a date for a no-confidence vote in the Government if the no-deal legislation fails. “I will choose a time, but you will know soon enough,” he said.

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