Remainers WIN No Deal Brexit showdown against Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson faces a fresh pummeling in the Commons today as he tries to win support for a snap General Election. 

A furious Mr Johnson last night called for Britain to go to the polls handing the future of Brexit back to the public after Remainers seized control of Parliament in a bid to rule out No Deal.

The Prime Minister lost a crunch vote, giving a rebel alliance control of Commons business with the aim of passing a law to stop the UK crashing out of the EU at the end of October, by an unexpectedly large margin of 328 to 301. 

Mr Johnson responded seconds later by declaring he will call a snap election, almost certainly on October 15, however the Prime Minister faces an uphill battle to get his plan through the Commons tonight, as the law dictates that two-thirds of MPs must agree to hold an early election.

Despite spending years demanding a poll, Jeremy Corbyn said last night that the No Deal legislation must be passed before a snap poll can happen.

Senior Labour sources said Mr Johnson would be left to ‘stew in his own juices’ while they decided whether or not to back his call for an election. In return, Tories accused Labour of ‘running scared’ of the electorate. 

Yesterday’s victory for pro-EU MPs came despite Mr Johnson threatening to end the careers of Tories who joined the revolt by deselecting them. 

Some 21 Conservatives – including eight former Cabinet ministers – took part in the mutiny. It was the first vote of Mr Johnson’s premiership. ‘Not a good start, Boris!’ shouted one Labour MP after the result came in.

Senior figures such as Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond face being brutally ejected from the party in what one government source described as a ‘bloodbath’. 

That will leave the government an eye-watering 43 MPs short of a majority, and completely unable to control the House. Speaking after the result, Mr Johnson said Parliament was ‘on the brink of wrecking’ the Brexit negotiations.

Furious Boris Johnson (pictured, last night in the Commons) has called for a snap election after rebel MPs seized control of the house by 328 to 301

Furious Boris Johnson (pictured, last night in the Commons) has called for a snap election after rebel MPs seized control of the house by 328 to 301 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is pictured in the Commons last night after rebel MPs seized control of the house, infuriating the Prime Minister

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is pictured in the Commons last night after rebel MPs seized control of the house, infuriating the Prime Minister 

Pictured are the Tory rebels who are now facing the sack after voting against Boris Johnson. (Left to right top row) David Gauke, Alistair Burt, Stephen Hammond, Philip Hammond, Margot James, Ken Clarke and Caroline Nokes. (Left to right middle row) Rory Stewart, Anne Milton, Richard Harrington, Guto Bebb, Antoinette Sandbach, Sam Gyimah and Justine Greening. (Left to right bottom row) Richard Benyon, Steve Brine, Greg Clark, Dominic Grieve, Ed Vaizey , Nicholas Soames and Oliver Letwin

Pictured are the Tory rebels who are now facing the sack after voting against Boris Johnson. (Left to right top row) David Gauke, Alistair Burt, Stephen Hammond, Philip Hammond, Margot James, Ken Clarke and Caroline Nokes. (Left to right middle row) Rory Stewart, Anne Milton, Richard Harrington, Guto Bebb, Antoinette Sandbach, Sam Gyimah and Justine Greening. (Left to right bottom row) Richard Benyon, Steve Brine, Greg Clark, Dominic Grieve, Ed Vaizey , Nicholas Soames and Oliver Letwin

The 21 Tory rebels who are now facing the sack

Philip Hammond

Ex-Chancellor and bete noir of Brexiteers (pictured, right). 

Points out he voted for the Withdrawal Agreement three times. 

Constituency: Runnymede. 

Leave vote: 50 per cent

Dominic Grieve

Second referendum supporter who says he wants to ‘save the Tory party’ from Mr Johnson. 

A QC, he has been legal brains behind much of opposition to No Deal.

Constituency: Beaconsfield. Leave vote: 49 per cent

Kenneth Clarke

Tory big beast, former Chancellor and, at 79, the ‘Father of the House of Commons’. 

Has said he would vote to bring down Tory government to stop No Deal. 

Constituency: Rushcliffe. Leave vote: 41 per cent

Sir Oliver Letwin 

Gaffe-prone MP who was David Cameron’s policy chief. 

Has argued that to stop No Deal MPs would have to take over the role of the government.

Constituency: West Dorset. Leave vote: 51 per cent

David Gauke

Ex-Justice Secretary and leader of the ‘Gaukeward Squad’ of rebels (right). 

Accused the PM of a ‘purge’ for threatening to deselect rebels and of trying to turn the Conservatives into the Brexit Party.

Constituency: South West Hertfordshire. Leave vote: 46 per cent

Rory Stewart

Former Development Secretary who ran an enthusiastic, if futile, leadership bid. Tory Remainer pin-up.

Constituency: Penrith and the Border.Leave vote: 55 per cent

Sir Nicholas Soames

Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson (pictured, right). 

Compared Brexiteers to a ‘growling Alsatian that must be kicked really hard in the balls’.

Constituency: Mid Sussex. 

Leave vote: 46 per cent

Antoinette Sandbach 

The 6ft 4in MP longstanding rebel. Branded PM ‘staggeringly hypocritical’ for threatening to deselect rebels.

Constituency: Eddisbury. 

Leave vote: 52 per cent

Alistair Burt 

Former Foreign Office minister who quit government in March after joining anti-No Deal rebels. Refused to rule out standing against Tories.

Constituency: North East Bedfordshire. Leave vote: 53 per cent

Sam Gyimah

Quit as science minister in protest at Mrs May’s ‘naive’ deal and backed a second referendum.

Constituency: East Surrey. 

Leave vote: 54 per cent

Caroline Nokes

Ex-immigration minister who said yesterday her constituents ‘mean a whole lot more to me than keeping the Conservative whip’.

Constituency: Romsey. 

Leave vote: 46 per cent

Margot James

Self-made millionaire who resigned as culture minister after rebelling against Mrs May to stop No Deal (pictured, right).

Constituency: Stourbridge. Leave vote: 64 per cent

Guto Bebb

Ex-defence minister who quit to stop No Deal. Is standing down at the election.

Constituency: Aberconwy. 

Leave vote: 52 per cent

Richard Harrington

Ex-business minister. Quit this year to stop No Deal and last week announced he would stand down as a Tory MP at the election.

Constituency: Watford. 

Leave vote: 51 per cent

Justine Greening

Ex-Education Secretary who will stand down at the next election (pictured, right).

Constituency: Putney. 

Leave vote: 28 per cent

Anne Milton 

Spiky-haired Guildford MP. The rebels’ unofficial whip.

Constituency: Guildford. 

Leave vote: 41 per cent

Greg Clark

Ex-member of May’s Cabinet who once told Business leaders ‘we can’t have No Deal’.

Constituency: Tunbridge Wells. 

Leave vote: 45 per cent

Stephen Hammond

Ex-Transport minister (right) and MP for a seat under threat from Lib Dems.

Constituency: Wimbledon. 

Leave vote: 29 per cent

Ed Vaizey 

A friend of David Cameron’s sacked as Arts Minister by Mrs May.

Constituency: Wantage. 

Leave vote: 46 per cent

Steve Brine

Low-key ex-public health minister who quit government in March.

Constituency: Winchester. 

Leave vote: 40 per cent

Richard Benyon

Former Army lieutenant who served in Northern Ireland and the Far East and an ex-agriculture minister. 

Constituency: Newbury. Leave vote: 48 per cent  

‘The people are going to have to choose,’ he said last night. ‘I can confirm tonight we are tabling a motion under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.’ 

The scale of the Tory rebellion was larger than many had expected at Westminster, with the ‘aggressive’ government tactics failing to whittle down numbers.

The combative attitude of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg during the debate on the business motion seemed to infuriate many who were wavering.

The roll call of rebels included ex-Chancellor Mr Hammond, who has already vowed to fight efforts to deselect him, as well as former ministers Justine Greening and Alistair Burt – who both pre-empted their punishments earlier by announcing they would be standing down at the election.

Other Cabinet veterans were Sir Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve, Mr Clarke, Greg Clark, Rory Stewart, and Caroline Nokes. Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, also rebelled. 

A Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘The Chief Whip is speaking with those Tory MPs who did not vote with the Government this evening. They will have the whip removed.’ 

A rebel source said No10 was ‘removing the whip from two former chancellors, a former lord chancellor and Winston Churchill’s grandson’. 

‘What has has happened to the Conservative Party?’ they added.

The bitter Tory civil war exploded after frantic developments yesterday, which saw: 

  • Former Tory minister Phillip Lee dramatically stripped the government’s majority by crossing the floor of the chamber to defect to the Lib Dems while Mr Johnson was speaking; 
  • Mr Johnson was embroiled in a bitter clash with Mr Hammond during ‘peace talks’ at No10 during which he accused him of trying to ‘hand power over to a Junta that includes Jeremy Corbyn’; 
  • Nigel Farage said there will be no Brexit pact with the Tories unless Mr Johnson explicitly adopts No Deal as his policy; 
  • Opposition MPs applauded Speaker John Bercow as he ridiculed the Prime Minister ‘do or die’ pledge to secure Brexit by October 31; 
  • Downing Street delayed the planned election by a day after being warned that October 14 clashed with a Jewish holiday; 
  • Brexiteer peers tabled 90 amendments to the rebel Bill as they geared up to try and filibuster when it reaches the Upper House later this week; 

After the result was declaring in a hushed Commons chamber last night, a clearly angry PM rose to his feet to condemn the decision.

‘Let there be no doubt about the consequences of this vote tonight,’ he said. 

‘It means that parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal we might be able to strike in Brussels.

‘Because tomorrow’s Bill would hand control of the negotiations to the EU. And that would mean more dither, more delay, more confusion.

‘And it would mean that the EU themselves would be able decide how long to keep this country In the EU.

And since I refuse to go along with that plan, we are going to have to make a choice. 

‘I don’t want an election. The public don’t want an election. But if the House votes for this Bill tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on Oct 17 to sort this out and take this country forward.’ 

Mr Corbyn said: ‘He wants to table a motion for a general election, fine.

‘Get the Bill through first in order to take no deal off the table.’

Earlier, sources close to shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the party was looking at ‘mechanisms’ that could bind the PM to a specific election date. 

Challenged during the debate in the Commons to say he will back an election, Mr Corbyn had again refused to give a straight answer. 

‘We are ready for a general election, we are ready to take on this Government and ready to win a General Election to end austerity and poverty across the country,’ he said.

In an extraordinary interview, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry even boasted about blocking a poll.

‘I’m not sure. We might vote against, we might abstain. It doesn’t matter,’ she said. 

During another day of high drama in Westminster, former minister Phillip Lee crossed the floor in the Commons and joined the Lib Dems. 

As the PM was struggling to defend his Brexit stance in the chamber, Dr Lee walked away from his colleagues and went to sit with Jo Swinson’s pro-EU party. 

Kicking off the debate in Parliament yesterday, former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin insisted that the ‘threat’ of No Deal was not a ‘credible negotiating strategy’. 

He said it was ‘decision time’ for MPs and they had to take their ‘last chance’ to stop the UK from crashing out.

‘Over the last six weeks the Government has not produced a single indication of any viable proposal to replace the backstop by any alternative likely to prove acceptable to the EU,’ Sir Oliver said.

‘The likelihood of the Government reaching a deal at the council meeting on October 17 and 18 on the terms the Government itself has set is accordingly slight.’

He warned this was the last week Parliament will have to block a no-deal exit on October 31, noting: ‘It’s decision time.

‘If MPs across the House want to prevent a no-deal exit on October 31 they will have the opportunity to do so if, but only if, they vote for this motion this evening.’ 

But Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg barely bothered to disguise his anger as he took to the despatch box, saying the business motion tonight was a ‘subversion of democracy’. 

He also swiped viciously at the Speaker for bending procedures to permit the move.

Mr Bercow was applauded by the House as he boasted about bending Commons rules to trigger a crunch vote. 

Amid fury from Eurosceptics, he insisted he would keep ‘facilitating the House of Commons’. 

In a reference to Mr Johnson’s solemn ‘do or die’ pledge to secure Brexit by Halloween, he said: 

‘I’ve done it, I am doing it, I will continue to do it to the best of my ability without fear or favour – to coin a phrase, come what may, do or die.’ 

In a statement yesterday, Dr Lee said the ‘party I joined in 1992 is not the party I am leaving today’.

‘This Conservative government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways,’ he said.

Losing his overall majority is a symbolic blow to the PM, although in reality the Brexit issue has been splitting parties to such an extent that it will not make a big difference to the challenges he faces. 

However, Mr Johnson was defiant as he addressed MPs immediately after the extraordinary scenes this afternoon. 

Attacking Remainer plans to seize control of the Commons and pass legislation ruling out No Deal, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is Jeremy Corbyn’s surrender bill.’ 

In a stinging barb about the concessions to Brussels he added: ‘They would be able to keep us in the EU for as long as they like and on their terms.’ 

How could the UK get to a general election on October 15? 

A furious Boris Johnson made good on his threat to start the process of calling a general election after his defeat last night.

The PM responded to MPs taking control by calling for a vote under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, saying the ‘people will have to decide’. 

The motion was tabled last night and a vote will happen tonight. MPs will be asked if they want to have an election, with a two-thirds majority required to trigger a snap poll. 

Success will rest on whether Labour formally backs the move – which Jeremy Corbyn insists he will not do without guarantees the UK cannot crash out of the EU during the campaign.

Under Mr Johnson’s plan, Parliament will dissolve for 25 days before polling day on October 15 – three days before the final pre-Brexit EU summit on October 17/18.

An early election would represent challenges for all of the major political parties. But some will be more enthusiastic than others about going to the country early. 

The Lib Dems will be keen to capitalise on their Remain credentials while the SNP will want to cash in on the collapse in Labour support and Tory disarray in Scotland. 

Some Labour figures will be wary of a Brexit election because of the party’s complex stance on the circumstances it would back a second referendum and whether it would campaign to stay or go. 

Meanwhile, the Tories would have two potential headaches. The first is whether a non-aggression pact will be agreed with the Brexit Party – if not then the Leave vote could split and let in another candidate. 

The second is what will happen if the Tories sack rebel MPs who vote to block No Deal but they then stand as independent candidates, also potentially splitting the Conservative vote and clearing the way for another party to win.   

Mr Johnson stressed that there will be ‘no further pointless delay’ to Brexit. ‘Enough is enough. The country wants this done and they want the referendum respected,’ he said. 

‘We are negotiating a deal and though I am confident of getting a deal, we will leave by October 31 in all circumstances.’ 

Prior to the defection the PM had an effective majority of just one. 

Dr Lee switching sides made it a minority government – although the premier can also rely on the support of Charlie Elphicke, who is currently suspended from the Tory whip. 

But the axing of another 21 MPs who rebelled takes the government a long way into the red. 

Prior to the introduction of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act in 2011, it would have been impossible for a government to survive in such circumstances.

But Mr Johnson’s problem is that Remainers want to wound him, but fear allowing an election would give him an opportunity to force No Deal. 

Earlier, the PM met senior rebels including Mr Hammond and Mr Gauke ahead of the crucial vote.

But the discussion quickly descended into acrimony, with government sources accusing Mr Hammond of behaving ‘disrespectfully’ and ‘chuntering’.

The premier accused the former chancellor during the encounter of ‘handing power to a Junta including Jeremy Corbyn’ by backing the anti-No Deal legislation.  

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson gloated about the new addition to her ranks. ‘Welcome @DrPhillipLeeMP – you have joined us at the most crucial time. 

‘I look forward to working with you to prevent a disastrous Brexit, and to fight for a fairer, more equal society,’ she wrote on Twitter. 

In a challenge to the PM, Mr Hammond was reselected in Runnymede and Weybridge by executive members of the Conservative Association at a private meeting on Monday night.

Earlier today he slammed the government’s ‘aggressive’ tactics, saying the PM will have the ‘fight of a lifetime’ if he tries to deselect him. 

Mr Bercow ridiculed Mr Johnson's 'do or die' pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31 as he gave a favourable ruling to the Remainer rebels

Mr Bercow ridiculed Mr Johnson’s ‘do or die’ pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31 as he gave a favourable ruling to the Remainer rebels

‘I am going to support the Bill… I think we have the numbers,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He also launched an excoriating attack on maverick No10 Brexit chief Dominic Cummings. 

‘This is my party, I am going to defend my party against people who are at the heart of this government who care nothing about the future of the Conservative party,’ he said. 

Allies of the PM said the rest of the group were ‘civil’ and ‘respectful’ during the meeting with the PM, but Mr Hammond ‘interrupted’ and ‘chuntered’.

Mr Johnson is said to have made very clear that he ‘would not tolerate’ the Bill. Rebels have accused Mr Johnson of using the election to try and ‘purge’ Tory opponents of No Deal and turn the party into a Eurosceptic vehicle.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd yesterday warned against taking action against ‘very valued colleagues who made a very different choice’.

‘We should consider carefully the consequences of dividing the party. But I do support the PM in his commitment… to get a deal,’ she told reporters outside her London home.

To take effect the anti-No Deal legislation must clear all its Parliamentary stages and receive Royal Assent before the Houses prorogue for the party conference break – which is due to happen as early as next Monday.

In his appearance in the chamber this afternoon, Mr Johnson conceded for the first time that he would be obliged to obey the law if it is passed.

Corbyn ‘running scared’ of a general election 

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of running scared of a general election last night after Labour suggested it would block one unless a No Deal Brexit had been ruled out.

The Labour leader insisted yesterday that he wanted a general election to end austerity.

But his party said they would sanction this only if a parliamentary mechanism could be found to prevent a No Deal Brexit.

Mr Corbyn indicated Labour would not vote for an election unless a bill to block No Deal had already been passed.  

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it would be the ‘mother of all U-turns’ if the Labour leader decided not to support an election in the vote, expected today.

And Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House, said opposition MPs were ‘white with fear’ that an election could lead to Mr Corbyn in No 10.

Labour MPs warned their leader not to fall for a ‘trap election’ which would still give Mr Johnson the chance to leave the EU without a deal.

They are concerned that Mr Johnson will end up reneging on his promise to hold the vote on October 15, and would instead move it until after October 31 – denying Parliament the opportunity of preventing No Deal.  

It has been claimed that Mr Johnson could respond to a defeat on a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act simply by introducing a one-line bill which stated that, notwithstanding the Act, a general election will be held on October 15. That would need only a simple majority to pass, not a two-thirds one. 

‘We will of course uphold the constitution and obey the law,’ he said. 

Ms Greening confirmed today that she would not stand for re-election in Putney. ‘It’s very clear to me that my concerns about the Conservative party becoming the Brexit party, in effect, have come to pass,’ she told Today.

‘So my decision is that if I really want to make a difference on opportunity and social mobility, I need to do that outside parliament.’ 

Mr Hammond rejected the idea Downing Street could prevent him from standing as a Tory at the next election.

‘I don’t believe they do and there would certainly be the fight of a lifetime if they tried to,’ he said. 

Asked whether he would be prepared to take such a fight to the courts, he said: ‘Possibly. A lot of my colleagues have come under immense pressure. Some have responded to that by saying ‘enough, I’m going’. 

‘That is not going to be my approach. This is my party. I have been a member of this party for 45 years.’ 

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve said: ‘I simply do not see the Conservative Party surviving in its current form if we continue behaving like this towards each other. 

‘This is now becoming a heavily ideological party being led in a way I don’t identify as being conservative at all.’ 

The primary aim of the so-called European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill 2019 is to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. 

But it goes much further and demands the PM ask the EU for a Brexit delay to January 31 2020 in the event Britain and Brussels are unable to agree a new deal at an EU Council meeting on October 17.

The Bill states that if the EU does agree to the request for an extension the PM must immediately accept the offer. 

If the EU propose a different extension date the PM must accept it within two days – unless it is rejected by the House of Commons. 

The Bill does say that the UK can leave the bloc without a deal but only if MPs explicitly vote in favour of such an outcome.   

Pictured: Boris Johnson speaks with arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Commons last night, when the government suffered a blow to their agenda

Pictured: Boris Johnson speaks with arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Commons last night, when the government suffered a blow to their agenda 

The government last night lost a vote in Westminster which handed control of the House of Commons to an alliance of rebel MPs, leading to calls for a general election from Boris

The government last night lost a vote in Westminster which handed control of the House of Commons to an alliance of rebel MPs, leading to calls for a general election from Boris 

The victory for pro-EU MPs - by a big margin of 328 to 301 - came despite Mr Johnson threatening to end the careers of Tories who joined the revolt by deselecting them

The victory for pro-EU MPs – by a big margin of 328 to 301 – came despite Mr Johnson threatening to end the careers of Tories who joined the revolt by deselecting them

Former Prime Minister Theresa was spotted smiling as she left Parliament following a defeat for her successor, Boris Johnson, last night

Former Prime Minister Theresa was spotted smiling as she left Parliament following a defeat for her successor, Boris Johnson, last night 

Jeremy Hunt is pictured leaving the Commons after last night's vote

Rory Stewart heads home from Parliament after attending the GQ Men of the Year Awards earlier in the evening

Jeremy Hunt is pictured, left, leaving the Commons after last night’s vote as Rory Stewart, right, headed home from Parliament after attending the GQ Men of the Year Awards earlier in the evening 

Noisy pro-EU protests were taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolded last night

Noisy pro-EU protests were taking place outside the Houses of Parliament as the political drama unfolded last night

Protesters are pictured outside Parliament last night as Boris Johnson suffered defeat in the Commons and rebel MPs took control in Westminster

Protesters are pictured outside Parliament last night as Boris Johnson suffered defeat in the Commons and rebel MPs took control in Westminster 

Day the PM lost his majority: Red face for Boris as MP defects as he delivers statement 

By Claire Ellicott, Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Tory MP Phillip Lee crossed the floor of the House to join the Liberal Democrats in dramatic fashion yesterday, wiping out Boris Johnson’s Commons majority.

The shock move – which Downing Street had no advance warning of – happened just hours before the Government lost the crunch Brexit vote by 328-301.

Before Dr Lee’s defection, Mr Johnson only had a working majority of one in the Commons thanks to his deal with the DUP. At a stroke, Dr Lee’s decision turned the Prime Minister’s administration into a minority government of minus one.

Dr Lee, MP for Bracknell, crossed the floor as Mr Johnson delivered a statement to MPs in the wake of the G7 summit yesterday

Dr Lee, MP for Bracknell, crossed the floor as Mr Johnson delivered a statement to MPs in the wake of the G7 summit yesterday 

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson (left) looked delighted as she sat alongside Phillip Lee (right) after he defected yesterday

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson (left) looked delighted as she sat alongside Phillip Lee (right) after he defected yesterday

Jacob Rees-Mogg takes a lie down in the Commons last night, as Anna Turley MP slammed him for 'the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament'

Jacob Rees-Mogg takes a lie down in the Commons last night, as Anna Turley MP slammed him for ‘the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament’

The defection came just as Mr Johnson prepared to deliver a statement to MPs on the G7 summit, and hours before an alliance of Tory and Opposition MPs attempted to seize control of the Commons’ order paper to prevent a No Deal Brexit. 

Farage says PM must vow ‘clean break’ Brexit 

Nigel Farage today held out the prospect that the Brexit Party could line up behind Boris Johnson in an election – but only if he vows to deliver a ‘clean break’ from the EU.

The MEP said he was ready to put ‘country before party’ and ‘help in any way we can’ if a snap poll is triggered.

But he warned that the PM seemed ‘intent on reheating Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement’ and that meant there was no chance of a pact. 

The intervention came after Mr Johnson pledged to call an election for October 14 if Remainers win a crunch vote last night aiming to block No Deal.

The PM said the move would ‘chop the legs off’ the goverment’s negotiating strategy, and warned he will never ask Brussels for an extension to the Halloween deadline.

But Tory success in a poll could rely on Mr Farage’s Brexit Party not splitting the Eurosceptic vote in key marginal seats. 

The former justice minister, a prominent supporter of a second EU referendum, said the Government was ‘aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways’.

‘It is putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessarily and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the UK,’ he said in a statement. 

Dr Lee, a qualified doctor, also said his decision was made after Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg behaved ‘disgrace-fully’ to a fellow doctor during a radio-phone row over whether anyone might die as a result of a No Deal Brexit.

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Lee claimed Brexit had ‘helped to transform this once great party into something more akin to a narrow faction, where an individual’s ‘conservatism’ is measured by how recklessly one wishes to leave the EU’.

Dr Lee later hinted at further defections from the Tories, telling Sky News: ‘I guess the elevation of Boris Johnson to the Prime Minister’s position has accelerated events.

‘I don’t think that everybody who’s currently siting as a Conservative is going to be sitting as a Conservative after the next election. 

‘Whether they join the Liberal Democrats or not, it’s an individual decision but I really wouldn’t be surprised if more come to this conclusion over the next few days.’

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Lee also said the Tories had ‘become infected by the twin diseases of English nationalism and populism’. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM the ‘bullying’ of MPs opposed to No Deal showed the ‘tone and culture’ of the Conservative Party had fundamentally changed, and he knew of other like-minded colleagues who were also considering their futures. Dr Lee’s decision to cross the floor was greeted with cheers on the opposition benches.

Former PM Theresa May positioned herself alongside Tory Remainer Ken Clarke for the statement yesterday and appeared to be enjoying Mr Johnson's discomfort

Former PM Theresa May positioned herself alongside Tory Remainer Ken Clarke for the statement yesterday and appeared to be enjoying Mr Johnson’s discomfort

But last night former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith criticised Dr Lee. ‘It looked like [Dr Lee] should be joining RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art]… The whole thing was stage-managed,’ he said.

‘It’s pretty deceitful if you move from one party to the next, when the British people voted for you and you were supported by the Conservative Party, its money and its organisation.’

The MP’s defection wipes out the Tory-DUP majority, though suspended Dover MP Charlie Elphicke is expected to vote with the Government. It also brings the number of Lib Dem MPs to 15 after his fellow former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston joined the party last month.

Former ministers Justine Greening and Alistair Burt also said yesterday that they would not seek re-election as Conservatives in the next general election, expected in weeks.

And Tory MP Keith Simpson said he was stepping aside, though said it was to do with his turning 70, rather than Brexit. Announcing her decision to stand down as a Tory MP at the next election yesterday, Miss Greening, the former education secretary, said the Prime Minister was ‘narrowing down’ the Tories’ appeal to the public.

She vowed to support a rebel bill tabled by Labour’s Hilary Benn to force Mr Johnson to seek an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Second referendum-backer Miss Greening said her fears that the Tory Party would morph into Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party had ‘come to pass’. 

The Conservative Party rebel told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the Prime Minister was offering the country a ‘lose-lose’ situation by threatening a general election.

Explosion of loathing at No10: From ex-Chancellor’s savage attack on Boris’s Brexit tactics to PM thumping Cabinet table, the incendiary row that led to Tory defeat 

Analysis by Jack Doyle for the Daily Mail 

If Boris Johnson woke up yesterday thinking the prospect of an early election, combined with his threat to deselect Tory MPs who try to thwart his Brexit plans, would cow the rebels, he was swiftly disabused of the notion yesterday morning.

At 8.10am on Radio 4’s Today Programme, Philip Hammond – 22 years a Tory MP, a former defence and foreign secretary and until a few short weeks ago Chancellor of the Exchequer – was defiant.

Not only would he vote for a Labour-backed Bill designed to stop No Deal and force Mr Johnson to ask for a three-month extension to Article 50, but he believed the rebels had the numbers to force the controversial legislation through.

Taking clear aim at Mr Johnson’s de facto chief of staff Dominic Cummings, he added: ‘I am going to defend my party against incomers, entryists, who are trying to turn it from a broad church to narrow faction.

Boris Johnson first PM to be defeated in first Commons vote in 236 years

Last night, Tory rebels handed Boris Johnson a humiliating defeat, leading one MP to shout: ‘Not a good start, Boris.’

He became the first Prime Minister to be defeated on his first Commons vote in 236 years.

King George III dismissed the government of Lord North and Charles James Fox in, who had the support of MPs in 1783.

Controversially he appointed Pitt the Younger at the end of 1783, as First Minister.

The 24-year-old managed to form a government, but was unable to pass any legislation, in a situation that mirrors the conundrum faced by Mr Johnson in the present day.

But unlike Mr Johnson, Pitt did not call for an election straight away, fearing a possible loss.

Instead he waited in government, mobilised public opinion and eroded the  opposition in the Commons by giving peerages to Fox’s MPs.

Then he called for an election early the next year, in 1784, and secured a dominant majority.

‘People who are at the heart of this Government, who are probably not even members of the Conservative Party, who care nothing about the future of the Conservative Party, I intend to defend my party against them.’

Last night’s vote set the seal on a battle that raged around the Palace of Westminster yesterday on what, it is no exaggeration to say, was one of yet another of those extraordinary and exhausting political days.

At the start of the day, the number of Tories publicly committed to rebellion was in the single figures. If Downing Street could keep the numbers down, there was at least some hope of averting defeat.

Both in public and private, No 10 aides condemned a law they called a ‘blueprint for legislative purgatory’, which would cost taxpayers £1billion a month, which was ‘very clearly in Brussels’ interests not in the British interest’. One, invoking the kind of classical allusion enjoyed by Mr Johnson, called it ‘the worst terms since Rome and the Carthaginians’.

The Romans took Carthage, killed most of the inhabitants, sold the rest into slavery and destroyed the city. Just before 10.15am, around 15 rebels entered Downing Street.

Nobody was calling them peace talks, and by the end it was clear they had only served to expose the Brexit civil war tearing the Conservative Party apart.

One attendee described it as ‘the most extraordinary meeting I have ever been in’. The rebel group included former Chancellor Philip Hammond, former justice secretary David Gauke and ex-business secretary Greg Clark – as well as a raft of former junior ministers and senior backbenchers including Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.

The meeting was held in the Cabinet room, around which many of the rebels had sat as ministers only weeks earlier.

On the Prime Minister’s left sat Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd who has urged him not to pull the trigger on the rebels but to ‘hold our party together’.

The Prime Minister began by arguing that progress was being made with the EU, and the threat of No Deal was having a real impact on Brussels.

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

Rebels including (left to right) Stephen Hammond, Antionette Sandbach, Richard Benyon, Margot James and Nicholas Soames walked out of Downing Street after a tense discussion with Mr Johnson

If the Bill was to pass, he argued, it could result in a second referendum or even the revocation of Article 50 – the death of Brexit. And he made clear to the rebels that, yes, they really would lose the whip if they did not back down. 

From his seat in the corner, next to Mr Gauke and Michael Gove, Mr Hammond couldn’t hide his displeasure. In truth, he argued, No 10 didn’t have a negotiating strategy or even team in place.

They weren’t really trying to get a deal. Even if Mr Johnson could secure a last-ditch deal at the European Council on October 17, there wasn’t time to pass the required legislation ahead of Brexit day on October 31, he insisted.

No, Mr Johnson said, there was in fact time. What’s more, he said, there would also be time for the rebels to try again to stop No Deal after the Council.

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM yesterday. Sources said Mr Hammond had been 'disrespectful'

Tory rebels including David Gauke (left) and Philip Hammond (right) looked grim-faced after leaving their talks with the PM yesterday. Sources said Mr Hammond had been ‘disrespectful’  

But Mr Hammond wasn’t listening. ‘Hammond and Boris were just refusing to listen to one another. Hammond kept talking over him, tutting and shaking his head,’ one source said. ‘Boris was doing the same.’

At one point the exasperated PM declared: ‘You all just want to keep us in the EU.’ Hammond hit back: ‘We voted for the deal three times.’ The row escalated.

PM: ‘I will not tolerate a Bill that hands over power to Corbyn.’ Hammond: ‘We are handing over power to Parliament.’ PM: ‘You are handing power over to a junta that includes Jeremy Corbyn.’

He added: ‘Extension [of Article 50] would be an extinction-level event for the Conservative Party.’ ‘Their mutual loathing was very apparent,’ a source told me.

Dominic Cummings was not present throughout the meeting, but had spoken to a group of rebels waiting outside. One later accused him of ‘hectoring’ them and starting a row, a claim denied by Government sources. ‘I’ve seen Dom argue and it was not a Dom argument’.

Dominic Cummings (pictured with Mr Johnson at Downing Street yesterday) is believed to be masterminding the Brexit strategy

Dominic Cummings (pictured with Mr Johnson at Downing Street yesterday) is believed to be masterminding the Brexit strategy

He did, though, make one short cameo appearance in the room, described as ‘deliberate trolling’ of the rebels. ‘Dom turned up just to needle Hammond.’ (Insiders also say that while they were waiting for the meeting to start Mr Cummings had told the waiting rebel MPs: ‘I don’t know who any of you are!’)

One hour and 25 minutes after the meeting began, Mr Johnson banged the table, urged the rebels to ‘trust my position’ and the meeting was over. The PM concluded: ‘I assume everyone is with me.’ It would quickly become clear they were not. Then the briefing war began. Government sources accused Mr Hammond of having mentioned EU ‘legal advice’ in a discussion about the extension.

Had he unwittingly revealed his connivance with the enemy in Brussels? No, rebel sources insisted. A Hammond spokesman called the claim ‘ridiculous and categorically untrue’. He was simply citing the ‘established view of the EU legal service’.

No 10 was not convinced. Rebels accused Mr Johnson of offering an ‘unconvincing’ account of how he would pass a deal and providing ‘no convincing proof’ that a negotiation is even taking place.

As that meeting finished, another began in the parliamentary offices of Jeremy Corbyn where the Labour leader and other opposition parties agreed to back the Bill. No such clarity, however, on whether to back an election.

During the morning and early afternoon, the number of confirmed rebels began to tick up. Former minister Sam Gyimah and Sir Nicholas both confirmed they would be voting against the Government. Yet some still had hope.

At lunchtime, Tory chief whip Mark Spencer told junior ministers that Labour Leavers could come to the rescue, with somewhere between three and ten prepared to vote with the Government.

But by the time the Commons began sitting at 2.30pm the number of publicly declared rebels was up to 15 and several more were still making up their minds. What wasn’t expected was Tory Phillip Lee’s public defection to the Lib Dems. When Mr Johnson stood up to make his Commons statement on the G7, Dr Lee stood up and crossed the floor of the House to sit with Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and at a stroke he erased Mr Johnson’s majority.

Tory MPs were deflated. Only when Mr Johnson baited Jeremy Corbyn with accusations of ‘surrender’ did they cheer up.

Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured standing right) was surrounded by fellow Remainer rebels including Philip Hammond (front left) as he kicked off the debate last night, insisting that the 'threat' of No Deal was not a 'credible negotiating strategy'

Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured standing right) was surrounded by fellow Remainer rebels including Philip Hammond (front left) as he kicked off the debate last night, insisting that the ‘threat’ of No Deal was not a ‘credible negotiating strategy’

In the briefing for journalists afterwards, Mr Cummings popped up again, in the background, refusing to answer questions on whether he was a member of the Tory party. At a little after 6.30pm, it took barely a minute for leading rebel Sir Oliver Letwin to set out his unprecedented proposal to take control of the House away from the Government, and for the Speaker John Bercow to agree it should be discussed. The fix was on. The House was in uproar.

At one point, the Speaker openly mocked the Prime Minister by throwing a Brexit quote back in his face. To applause from Labour MPs he said he would ‘facilitate’ the House of Commons ‘come what may, do or die’.

Mr Hammond wasn’t finished, though. Standing in central lobby with the vote only hours away, he spoke of his ‘outrage’ that the party he has been a member of for 45 years was ‘thinking of throwing me out’.

‘Some of my colleagues have chosen to call it a day because they don’t like what’s going on. My approach is to stay and fight and I will fight for the party I joined and the party that I believe the Conservatives must be, a broad inclusive centre-Right party, for as long as I am able to do so,’ he said. Backing down? Not a chance.

 

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