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Johnson Threatens Oct. 14 Election Over No-Deal: Brexit Update

Jessica Shankleman and Robert Hutton
Johnson Threatens Oct. 14 Election Over No-Deal: Brexit Update

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Boris Johnson is planning for a general election on Oct. 14 if he loses a crucial vote over a no-deal Brexit in Parliament this week, a senior U.K. official said. The prime minister said he will not delay leaving the European Union in a speech after a short-notice meeting with his cabinet. Members of Parliament are planning to pass legislation to force the prime minister to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 unless he can get a new agreement with the European Union by mid-October.

Key Developments:

Johnson will start process for Oct. 14 general election if he loses No-deal Brexit vote in Parliament, a senior U.K. official saysJohnson met with his cabinet over expected House of Commons rebellionCross-party alliance of MPs draws up plan to seize the agenda in Parliament on Tuesday to force through legislation blocking a no-deal divorcePound falls by as much as 0.98%

Johnson Planning For Oct. 14 election: Official (7:15 p.m.)

Boris Johnson will start the process for calling a general election on October 14 if his government loses a vote intended to block a no-deal Brexit, a U.K. official said.

If the House of Commons votes this week to order the prime minister to delay Brexit until Jan. 31, Johnson will propose a motion under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act for a general election.

For an election to be called, that motion would need to be supported by at least two-thirds of MPs.

Johnson: ‘No Circumstances’ I Would Ask for Delay (6:07 p.m.)

Boris Johnson said the chances of a new Brexit deal with Brussels by Oct. 31 are increasing as he made a pitch for MPs to support the government against a rebel motion opposing a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday. If Parliament blocks a no-deal divorce, it will weaken the U.K.’s negotiating position, he said.

“I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay,” he said. “We’re leaving on 31 October, no ifs or buts. We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or to scrub that referendum.”

“Let’s let our negotiators get on with their work, without that sword of Damocles over their necks and without an election,” he said. “I don’t want an election. You don’t want an election,” he added, hinting that one might be necessary if Parliament doesn’t get behind his plan.

Johnson to Make Public Statement (5.45 p.m.)

Johnson will make a public statement at 6 p.m. on Monday, his office said.

No-Deal Opponents Publish Draft Bill (5.30 p.m.)

A cross-party group of MPs led by Philip Hammond and Hilary Benn published a draft bill that they’ll use to try and prevent a no-deal Brexit. It would require Johnson to extend exit day to Jan. 31 if he doesn’t either reach a deal with the EU that’s approved by Parliament or secure Parliament’s agreement for leaving the bloc with no deal.

A motion will be used on Tuesday to take control of the order paper from 3 p.m. the following day. That’s after Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s Spending Review.

They’ll then debate a four-page bill that demands the government meet one of the two conditions by Oct. 19. If neither condition is met, the prime minister must write to the EU to ask for a three-month extension to negotiations, the motion says.

Tory Rebels Asked Johnson to Reassure Markets (4:20 p.m.)

The 21 potential Tory rebels who were due to meet Johnson on Monday (see 3:35 p.m.) asked him to reassure the currency markets by confirming he was still committed to a deal with the EU in a letter dated Aug. 12 made public today.

The letter, signed by Hammond and former cabinet ministers Rory Stewart, David Lidington, David Gauke and Greg Clark, said they were “alarmed” by Johnson’s Brexit red lines, which “appear to eliminate” the chances of striking a deal with Brussels.

“We would therefore greatly appreciate your confirmation that you remain committed to doing a deal, that you accept any such deal will require compromise and that it remains your view that the chance of No Deal is ‘less than a million to one’,” they said, quoting his line during the leadership campaign. “This will reassure not only us, but also the currency markets.”

Hammond Demands Answers from Johnson (3:25 p.m.)

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond wrote to Boris Johnson to demand answers about his progress on a Brexit deal after the prime minister canceled a meeting with 21 potential Tory rebels scheduled for Monday.

Hammond, who has said he’ll do everything he can to stop a no-deal Brexit, asked the premier to provide specific details of his talks with the EU and explain how he thinks he’s closer to a new agreement. He also asked Johnson to publish his proposals to replace the Irish border backstop and any other revisions to the Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday.

Johnson has tried to convince Tory MPs that he’s close to agreeing a deal with the bloc to stop them voting against him. Hammond said in his letter that many of the 21 Tories due to attend the meeting had planned to decide their next steps after hearing from the prime minister.

Details of Rebel Plan Emerge (3:15 p.m.)

Details of the rebel plans to stop a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 by pushing legislation through Parliament are beginning to emerge.

Two people familiar with the draft law told Bloomberg it would compel Johnson to seek a three-month delay if he’s been unable to get a new Brexit deal through the House of Commons by Oct. 19 or to persuade lawmakers to back a no-deal departure.

That would set Jan. 31 as the new deadline for Brexit.

Goldman Sachs Weighs in on Election Speculation (2:45 p.m.)

There is still scope for an election on or around Oct. 17 if Boris Johnson “decides this week that a pre-Brexit general election is his best response to a legislative lock on “no deal,” Goldman Sachs said in a note to investors.

Its view is that going down that route would be difficult, as it would require more than 100 opposition MPs to garner the necessary two-thirds majority. Goldman said the price those opposition lawmakers would charge would be to see “concrete evidence that PM Johnson has already sought EU permission for an Article 50 extension beyond 31 October.”

”Traditionally, the date of a general election is in the gift of the prime minister,” the note said. “In our view, it would be sub optimal for Labour MPs to allow the Conservative government to call an October election that characterizes the Labour front-bench as a Brexit saboteur. That said, the Labour leadership would certainly find itself in a difficult position.”

Irish PM Says Unionist Proposals Interesting (2:20 p.m.)

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar signaled his willingness to consider alternatives to the backstop, by describing some proposals from the Ulster Unionist Party as “interesting.”

The UUP proposals include the creation of a criminal offense of transporting non-compliant goods through the U.K. to the EU, and creating a cross-border trade body, the BBC reported.

While Varadkar told reporters these wouldn’t solve all the problems at the frontier, they shouldn’t be dismissed “out of hand.”

Johnson Election Threat in Bid to Quell Rebellion (1:05 p.m.)

Boris Johnson would treat a vote in Parliament to block a no-deal Brexit as a vote of no-confidence in his government, according to a person familiar with his thinking, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private.

Johnson’s official spokesman, James Slack, said on Monday morning that Johnson doesn’t want an election.

Under British conventions, a vote of no-confidence can trigger a general election and the fact that Johnson is invoking these conventions suggests he has his eye on a snap poll.

As the timetable currently stands, the next election is not due until 2022. If he wanted to hold an election early, Johnson would need to win the support of members of Parliament in a special vote.

Johnson Convenes Meeting of Cabinet (12:30 p.m.)

Boris Johnson will meet his cabinet ministers for talks as he draws up plans to counter a threat by parliamentarians to block a no-deal split from the EU.

A government official confirmed a BBC report that the cabinet will meet later on Monday. The BBC also said one option -- among many under discussion -- could be for Johnson to call for a snap general election later this week.

Varadkar, Johnson Could Meet Next Week (12:20 p.m.)

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he may meet with Boris Johnson next week, with two possible dates being worked on.

Speaking to reporters, Varadkar said he’s always ready to listen to potential U.K. proposals to break the Brexit impasse.

Labour Could Back Leave in Repeat Referendum (11:55 a.m.)

Jeremy Corbyn left his options open for a second referendum, reiterating the party wouldn’t necessarily back Remain if the government brought back a deal from Brussels.

Asked if he could support a Labour leave position in a ballot, Corbyn said Labour would only definitely back Remain if the alternative was a no-deal split from the EU.

Labour would include the promise of a public vote in its next manifesto, Corbyn said. “If it’s no-deal then we will vote to Remain, if it’s any other deal then our party’s democratic process will decide what position we take,” he told his audience in Salford.

Corbyn has been reluctant to turn Labour into the anti-Brexit party, though he has vowed to do everything he can to prevent a no-deal exit from the bloc.

Johnson’s Drinks With MPs As Showdown Looms (11:45 a.m.)

Boris Johnson will host his Conservative colleagues at a drinks reception on Monday evening ahead of a statement to Parliament on Tuesday, his spokesman James Slack told reporters.

Slack said it would be “entirely unreasonable” for members of Parliament -- who rejected Theresa May’s deal three times -- to bind the prime minister’s hands by blocking a no-deal Brexit just as he goes into fresh negotiations with the EU.

It’s another warning to potential Conservative rebels after they were threatened with deselection if they break ranks. Johnson himself voted against May’s deal.

Corbyn: ‘Last Chance’ to Stop No Deal Brexit (11:35 a.m.)

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn warned that this week could be the last chance to prevent a no-deal breakup with the EU. Speaking in Salford, northwest England, Corbyn said he’s finalizing plans with other members of Parliament for how to stop Johnson pushing ahead.

“We must come together to stop no deal,” Corbyn said. “This week could be our last chance. We are working with other parties to do everything necessary to pull our country back from the brink.”

After stopping Johnson, Britain needs a general election, Corbyn said. In a rehearsal for that election campaign, he framed his argument in wider political terms, repeatedly portraying Johnson and his Tory party as friends of a wealthy elite who won’t pay the price of a no-deal split from the EU.

Rees-Mogg Accuses Doctor Of ‘Fear-mongering,’ (10:30 a.m.)

In a bad-tempered exchange on LBC radio Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg was asked by a doctor involved in planning for a no-deal Brexit what level of patient mortality he would be happy to accept.

In reply Rees-Mogg accused the doctor of “fear-mongering,” adding “I don’t think there is any reason to suppose a no-deal Brexit should lead to a mortality rate; this is the worst excess of Project Fear.”

No-Deal a 95% Chance if Parliament Fails, Gauke Says (Earlier)

Former Justice Secretary David Gauke said there’s a 95% chance of a No-Deal split with the EU on Oct. 31 if Parliament fails to pass legislation blocking it.

The former minister, who voted three times for Theresa May’s deal with the EU and favors leaving with an agreement, accused Boris Johnson of “goading people to vote against the government” as part of a strategy aimed at provoking a general election.

Gauke told the BBC that Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings, who isn’t a member of the Conservative Party, is behind the “unusual” and “confrontational” strategy. There has been no approach to rebels to persuade them to change their minds, just threats of being thrown out of the party and banned as election candidates, he said.

No-Deal Opponents Coalesce Around Short Extension (Earlier)

Opponents of a no-deal Brexit have coalesced around a short extension to Britain’s membership as this week’s goal, former Tory Lawmaker Nick Boles told BBC radio.

Rebel Tories and opposition MPs want to pass a law requiring Johnson to seek an extension -- assuming he can’t get a revised deal or persuade Parliament to back a no-deal Brexit by Oct. 31, Boles said.

According to Boles, the extension wouldn’t be more than “a few more months.” That’s “not long enough crucially for a referendum, so this is not an attempt to somehow sneak a second referendum in,” he said.

Chuka Umunna, a Liberal Democrat who quit the Labour Party earlier this year, agreed that stopping a no-deal Brexit is this week’s goal, but his party sees it as a stepping stone to stopping Brexit altogether.

Long-Bailey Says Bill Designed for Broad Appeal (Earlier)

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Business spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, said a proposed bill aimed at blocking a no-deal split from the EU -- which she said will be introduced on Tuesday -- will be kept “as short and simple as possible” to give it broad appeal across the political spectrum in Parliament.

This week is the “last chance” to stop a “disastrous” no-deal divorce, she told BBC Radio.

Earlier:

U.K. INSIGHT: How Boris Johnson Could Ruffle the Housing Market

Fate of Brexit Is Up in the Air as Johnson Delivers Surprises

Johnson Is Campaigning Again, But What Exactly Is He Selling?

--With assistance from Dara Doyle, Flavia Krause-Jackson, Tim Ross, Alex Morales and Kitty Donaldson.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Thomas Penny, Caroline Alexander

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