LONDON – Opposition parties in the UK have said on Friday they will stop Boris Johnson from calling a snap election in October.
Armed with the parliamentary agenda, usually reserved for the government in the House of Commons, the lower chamber, opposition forces have banded together to prevent the PM from calling the shots.
Following a round of talks, the loose coalition of parties agreed that they should ensure that an extension to Brexit is granted before calling voters back to the polls for the second time in just over two years.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is the official opposition in Parliament.
A bill requiring the government to apply for a delay and rule out a possible no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 is currently sat in the House of Lords, the upper chamber, and is expected to pass later in the day before it is officially written into law.
Johnson will travel to Brussels on Oct. 17-18 for a European Council meeting where he will try to secure alterations to the current withdrawal deal, a remnant of Theresa May’s government which eventually led to her downfall as Conservative Party leader.
After the bill ruling out no-deal passed through the Commons on Wednesday, Johnson tried to secure a snap election but it fell well short of securing the backing of two-thirds of MPs in the 650-seat Commons, the minimum required.
Friday’s development means it is unlikely an election will be held before November, although most parties in the chamber have expressed their desire to hold one.
That same day, Johnson fired 21 MPs from the Tory party’s parliamentary group for voting against the government and lost his working majority.
The government is set to submit snap elections for another vote on Monday.
Speaking to the BBC, Ian Blackford, the leader of the Scottish National Party in the Commons, said opposition MPs would block the motion, fearing it would allow Johnson to ignore the bill requiring him to go back to Brussels to extend Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism that sets the timing of negotiations for a country leaving the bloc.
“Let me be clear, we want an election, I’m desperate for an election in Scotland,” he said.
“Boris Johnson isn’t going to determine the time of this, it’s not going to be of Boris Johnson’s choosing, we all know what he’s trying to do, he’s trying to frustrate the will of Parliament.”
Opposition forces have been gelled by their outrage over Johnson’s plan to prorogue Parliament for five weeks in the run-up to Brexit, which critics said was a ploy to limit MPs’ powers to thwart a no-deal Brexit.
The new Conservative Party PM had held onto the option of a no-deal Brexit, saying it gave him leverage in the negotiations with the EU.
During a speech on Thursday, he said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit.
Liz Saville Roberts, the leader of the Welsh Plaid Cymru party, which is part of the cross-party alliance, said: “We need to make sure we get past the Oct. 31 and an extension to Article 50. In that respect, we were in agreement that the prime minister is on the run.”
The Liberal Democrats and the Greens are also pushing against a no-deal Brexit.
The Conservative Party responded to the bid by labeling Corbyn a “chicken.”
It shared a photoshopped image of Corbyn on its Twitter depicting the Labour leader in a chicken suit along with the tag “JFC: Totally Spineless Chicken.”