BORIS Johnson slammed Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘yellow belly’ and a ‘preposterous coward’ after Labour abstainers blocked his bid to hold a general election for a second time.
The PM wanted the Commons to back a national poll on October 15 but he was defeated after Labour abstained for a second time, leaving him short of the two-thirds majority needed.
It would have taken a Parliamentary miracle for Mr Johnson to win the vote with neither Mr Corbyn or Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson willing to back an election until a three-month Brexit delay has been secured.
Mr Johnson won 293 votes – 141 MPs short of the 434 he needed to call an election.
He has now lost six out of six votes, an all-time record for a Prime Minister.
In front of a packed front bench, Mr Johnson launched a withering attack on Mr Corbyn and other opposition MPs for blocking his bid and warned them ‘you can’t hide forever.
Mr Johnson thundered: “While the opposition run from their duty to those who put us here, they cannot hide forever.
While the opposition run from their duty to those who put us here, they cannot hide forever
“I am determined that they will see that it was this government that was on their side.”
Singling out Mr Corbyn personally, Boris told MPs: “The Surrender Act has now passed. It has gained Royal Assent.
“He has done his level best to wreck this country’s chances of a successful negotiation.
“By his own logic and his own argument, he must now back an election.”
Turning his fire on backbench Labour MPs, the PM added: “Most of them don’t want it because they fear he will lose.
“But a small and sensible minority don’t want it because they’re terrified he might actually win.”
Boris added: “I will not ask for another delay.
“If honourable members want another delay, the only proper way to do this is to ask permission from our masters, the voters.”
Boris accused them of running scared from the voters, attacking them for all having “yellow bellies”, as well as “coming up with ever more outrageous excuses for delaying an election until hell freezes over”.
He went on: “I urged the House to trust the people, but once again the opposition think they know better.
“They want to delay Brexit yet again…and most egregiously of all, not only have they failed to choose the way ahead, they have now twice denied the British people their say.”
Senior Tory backbench MP Nigel Evans added: “It’s way time this zombie parliament should be put out of its misery.”
Mr Johnson said he would continue to try and negotiate a deal with the EU while also preparing for a No Deal scenario.
Hitting back Mr Corbyn insisted: “I want to turf out this reckless government. But we will not walk into his trap”.
Some Tories also spoke out against the PM’s election bid saying it wasn’t the way to solve the nation’s Brexit splits.
Former Tory minister Sir Alan Duncan branded Brexit “the most divisive, poisonous and difficult issue of our life”.
He added: “It is pushing our entire party system to the point of collapse”.
Parliament’s suspension was officially said to allow ministers to prepare for a new Queen’s Speech and a new set of laws.
But the PM was widely suspected of ordering it to stop MPs from disrupting his plan for a “do or die” Brexit any further.
As a fresh row erupted over the swift decision to send MPs home, Mr Corbyn dubbed the decision “disgraceful”.
The Labour boss insisted: “Parliament should be sitting and holding the Government to account.
“The Prime Minister should be answering Parliament’s questions.”
Labour also boycotted the ancient prorogation ceremony in the Lords, which was held very late last night.
The party’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith, said she was “not willing therefore to be party to such a political charade”.
The powerful Liaison Committee demanded Boris still turn up for a 90-minute grilling scheduled for 3.30pm on Wednesday.
Earlier on Monday Mr Johnson lashed out at MPs as they were set to saddle Britain with a “zombie” Parliament for another three months.
Despite being bitterly deadlocked on Brexit, the Commons turned down the PM’s plea for a snap general election, and for the second time.
Instead of a nationwide poll on October 15, the snub means an election will now only be possible at the end of November at the earliest.
With the Queen’s permission, the PM suspended Parliament for five weeks until October 14 as soon as the vote ended.
If MPs vote for an election as soon as they return, the earliest it could be held would be on November 21 as the campaign must be five weeks long.
And hours before Parliament was formally prorogued, the controversial law that delays Brexit by three months until January 31 went live when it was formally given royal assent.
Earlier, Mr Johnson said a No Deal Brexit would be failure for both the British and Irish governments.
The prime minister was in Dublin for his first meeting with Irish PM Leo Varadkar since he entered Number 10.
The Taoiseach described the task ahead as “very tough” but said Ireland wanted to be Britain’s “friend” and “ally”.
Mr Varadkar also appealed to the PM’s love of Winston Churchill and the classics, with an Irish anecdote about Britain’s great wartime leader after referring to Ireland as the UK’s “Athena”.
Boris said No Deal would be a “failure of statecraft” for both sides and told the Irish PM: “I have one message that I want to land with you today Leo and that is that I want to find a deal.
“I want to get a deal, like you I’ve looked carefully at No Deal and assessed its consequences for our country and yours.
“Yes we could do it [get through No Deal], we could get through it, but that outcome would be a failure of statecraft of which we would all be responsible.”
The pair have spoken over the phone twice but the backstop remains the main stumbling block in their negotiations.
Mr Varadkar said he would listen to “alternatives” to the backstop but they must be “realistic”.
Mr Johnson said that whatever the alternative the UK will “never never ever institute checks on the border and I hope our friends at the EU will say the same.”
He added the UK’s “commitment to the peace process is unshakeable.”
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
Boris’ message to Brussels comes after Amber Rudd claimed No10 was devoting “80-90 per cent” of its time to planning for a No Deal Brexit.
She told the BBC: “There is a huge amount of planning in getting No Deal. But I have not seen enough planning in actually getting deal.”
However the PM’s call for a deal could also jeopardise a potential election pact with the Brexit Party.
Leader Nigel Farage has promised the Tories a 100-strong majority if Boris delivers a “clean break” No Deal.
But senior chiefs have denied any chance of an alliance with Home Secretary Sajid Javid insisting the party can “stand on our own two feet”.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly refused to broker a deal with Brussels unless the hated backstop is ditched from any Withdrawal Agreement.
He has warned Dublin and Brussels that Britain will be leaving the bloc “do or die” by October 31.
Last week the PM said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than go begging to EU chiefs for an extension.
What is the Backstop?
- The Irish backstop is essentially a safety net that would prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
- It is one of the most controversial elements of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and has been a constant stumbling block between No10 and Brussels.
- Under May’s deal, the UK would enter a transition period after officially leaving the EU where it would remain a member of the bloc’s economic zones – namely the single market and the customs union.
- This would give the government time to agree the details of our new trading relationship with Brussels.
- The backstop would come into effect if the transition period ended before all the details of the new relationship had been worked out.
- Northern Ireland would then remain a member of the single market until a trade agreement had been reached to keep the border effectively invisible.
- That would mean goods crossing the Irish border would not be subject to checks for customs or product standards.
- The whole of the UK would also remain in a common customs territory with the EU, meaning there would be no “tariffs, quotas, rules of origin or customs processes” applied to UK-EU trade.
- The arrangement would keep the Northern Irish border open, but would mean the UK would temporarily have to go on following the EU’s rules and regulations without having a say in deciding them.
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