With MPs returning on Tuesday for the Brexit debate’s biggest week yet, the Government is facing a double plot from the “Remainer rabble”. The Sunday Express has learned ministers and advisers have been told to expect an autumn election – and ordered to come up with policy ideas to present to voters. With Remainers planning to force through legislation to stop a no-deal exit, the “nuclear option” of an election “has become a real possibility” a senior source said.
The insider said: “This will be a people versus Parliament election – Boris is on the side of the people and we will win.”
If Remainers and Labour fail this week to stop a no-deal, their fallback is a no-confidence vote.
They would try to replace Mr Johnson as Prime Minister with Labour’s Hilary Benn in a temporary national unity government.
Writing in the Sunday Express today, Nigel Farage called opponents of Brexit “the Remainer rabble” and again offered to strike a deal with Mr Johnson if he pursues a clean Brexit and ditches the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Brexit Party leader said Mr Johnson “needs to face down the Remainer establishment inside and outside Parliament, ignore the blackmail and blandishments of the EU, and deliver a clean-break Brexit” on time.
He said: “If Boris has the verve and nerve to do that, we are prepared to put country before party, back him and make him a hero.” Tory chairman James Cleverly, who will run an election campaign, said in the Sunday Express his party is trying to protect British democracy by seeing Brexit through.
He said: “In a phoney defence of democracy, opposition MPs are clubbing together in an attempt to overturn the democratic decision of the British people.”
Jeremy Corbyn (left) and Boris Johnson
Leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage
With an election becoming a stronger possibility, there were suggestions last night that the Conservative leadership is planning to agree to activists’s demands for a clear-out of Remainer MPs who have broken the manifesto commitment to deliver Brexit.
Giving notice to rebel MPs like ex-chancellor Philip Hammond, Dominic Grieve and Phillip Lee, sources said any Conservative MP who backed plans to delay the UK’s departure from the EU would be sacked as a candidate at the next election.
Mr Johnson’s inner circle has also been boosted by a weekend poll which put the Tories on 31 percent, seven points ahead of Labour.
It also puts Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn third, behind Mr Johnson and the Lib Dems’s Jo Swinson, as best prime minister.
The plans to block Brexit come amid fury by Remainers that Parliament will be suspended until mid-October, to allow Mr Johnson’s government to announce a legislative programme. The move has limited the ability of MPs to be helped by Speaker John Bercow to use parliamentary procedure to continue to thwart the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
A Labour/Remainer alliance will this week try to force through a delay to Brexit by wresting control of the parliamentary agenda with a standing order 24 vote – allowing Remainers to put forward a Bill to prevent a no-deal exit and ask the Government to extend Article 50. A note has been sent to Labour peers warning that they may have to sit next weekend, to ensure the delay legislation goes through.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow
Labour peer George Foulkes said: “We have had a note to tell us to prepare for a weekend sitting.
“We expect an attempt [by Brexiteers] to try to filibuster the debate to stop the legislation going through.”
There are also plans to use procedures in the Lords not invoked in centuries, to stop Brexiteers from talking the Bill out, including a closure debate and a call that “the noble Lord will not be heard”.
A senior Labour Lords source warned the Government that if the Bill passed, it “should be in no doubt that the Lords will do all it can to protect the will of the elected House”.
Tory Remainers insisted last night that the threat of deselection had only served to strengthen their resolve to stop Mr Johnson.
One rebel MP told the Sunday Express: “It’s a desperate move that makes no difference to me [and others].
“In fact, it strengthens our conviction that we’re doing the right thing.”
Conservative Remainers have also been continuing talks to set up a government of national unity, with the possible aim of revoking Article 50 altogether.
The plan is to install Hilary Benn as prime minister, who would then step down once Brexit had been cancelled.
It is understood that talks with Mr Corbyn’s team have eased the way for him to drop his demand that, as leader of the Opposition, he heads the temporary government.
A Tory Remainer MP said: “It is now dawning with Corbyn and his circle that he cannot lead a government of national unity and that somebody else will have to do it, followed by an election.
“It has to be a Labour MP, it can’t be a Tory. The most likely candidate is Hilary Benn.
“He is highly respected by a lot of Conservative MPs, going back to his Syria speech. Yvette [Cooper] just doesn’t have the wider support.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson
“Hilary also has no longer-term leadership ambitions so he can be trusted not to try to hold on. That’s the main problem with somebody like Keir Starmer. So we have a vote of confidence in October, we should have the 315 needed – if we even need that many – for a government of national unity and we get an extension or revoke [Article 50], which may be the option.”
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn tried to do an impression of Mr Johnson at a rally in Glasgow, flailing his arms and saying: “Ooh, er, ah.”
In response to polling about who would make the best prime minister, in which he came fourth, behind Mr Johnson, Jo Swinson and “don’t knows”, Mr Corbyn said: “I lead the party, I put my case out there.
“It’s not all about personalities or individuals, or indeed, what some of the media choose to say about me.”