Johnson again tried and again failed, to call a snap general election in a vote that took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning, his sixth-straight defeat in five days of House of Commons business.
To trigger an early election, the government needs 434 votes – two-thirds of all MPs in the 650-seat lower house of parliament – but only 293 backed the proposal.
Expelling 21 Tory rebels last week after they supported legislation to stop a risky ‘no-deal’ Brexit, has left the prime minister without a parliamentary majority and unable to govern, as the deadline to leave the European Union looms. An election is expected, sooner or later.
Opening the debate at nearly 11pm (22:00 GMT), Johnson goaded Jeremy Corbyn, repeating his line that the Labour leader was “the first leader of the opposition in the history of our country to show his confidence in Her Majesty’s government by declining the opportunity to have an election with a view to removing the government”.
He said Corbyn had previously said he would back an election if legislation to prevent the government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit on October 31 became law, which it did on Monday afternoon.
“The ‘surrender act’ has now passed,” said Johnson, referring to the legislation that he claims will tie his hands in securing a departure deal with the EU. “It’s gained royal assent, he’s done his level best to wreck this country’s chances of a successful negotiation. By his own logic, he must now back an election.”
Corbyn dismissed Johnson’s claims. “We’re eager for an election,” he said. “But as keen as we are, we are not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of no-deal on our communities.”