Boris Johnson and Irish PM Leo Varadkar meet face-to-face TODAY

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Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar emerged from last-ditch Brexit talks tonight insisting they can see the ‘pathway to a deal’ – as the clock runs down.

The PM and the Irish Taoiseach sounded an upbeat tone after meeting face-to-face in Cheshire to try and find a way through the deadlock.

In a joint statement, they said their three-hour discussions were ‘detailed and constructive’, and officials will continue to ‘engage constructively’. 

But it is far from clear as yet that there has been any substantive movement – with suggestions that neither side has shifted on the crucial customs issue. 

Answering questions from reporters afterwards, Mr Varadkar again talked up the prospects of an accord being struck. 

‘I am absolutely convinced that both Ireland and Britain want there to be an agreement,’ he said.

‘It is possible to come to an agreement, to have a treaty agreed to allow the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, and to have that done by the end of October.’

But in a word of caution he added: ‘There is many a slip between cup and lip.’ 

He also stressed again that there must be ‘no customs border between North and South’ on the island of Ireland. 

The media was shut out of today’s event at luxury wedding venue Thornton Manor in the Wirral in a bid to maximise the chances of a breakthrough. 

The two leaders are believed to have spent much of the session talking one-on-one, and went for a walk in the grounds before parting ways. 

UK officials were staying tight lipped afterwards, in what appears to be an attempt to avoid derailing any fledgling compromise. They refused to say whether negotiations might be about to enter ‘the tunnel’ – an intensive phase where the teams are meant to maintain silence as details of a settlement are hammered out.    

Hopes were not high on either side beforehand, with the Irish backstop still a major dividing line and rhetoric escalating dramatically. 

The EU has set tomorrow as the deadline for an outline agreement to be reached in time for a summit next week. 

Mr Johnson has insisted he is still ‘cautiously, cautiously optimistic’ despite the deepening gloom. 

However, the blame game is already in full swing. The European parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt launched an extraordinary attack on Mr Johnson last night, branding him a ‘traitor’.

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar met for talks at Thornton Manor near Liverpool today as they tried to put the UK and EU on a path towards a Brexit deal

Downing Street and Mr Johnson were tight-lipped after the meeting but he and Mr Varadkar said in a joint statement that they believed there was now a ‘pathway’ to a deal

Mr Varadkar sounded a note of caution as he headed back to Dublin this evening as he told reporters ‘there is many a slip between cup and lip’

The media was shut out of the event – at Thornton Manor in the Wirral (pictured) – in a bid to maximise the chances of a breakthrough

He accused the Prime Minister of attempting to orchestrate a ‘blame game’, saying that he was ‘the real traitor’. Last night European Council chief Donald Tusk twisted the knife by mocking the ‘permanent parliamentary crisis’ in the UK.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier also warned that ‘we’re not really in a position where we’re able to find an agreement’. 

In a joint statement after the talks between Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar today, the British and Irish governments said: ‘Both continue to believe that a deal is in everybody’s interest. They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal.

What happened today and what will happen next?

What happened today? 

Boris Johnson  and Leo Varadkar met in Cheshire for three hours of Brexit talks.

How did it end? 

The two leaders issued a joint statement in which they said they believed there is a ‘pathway’ to a deal being done.

Is that what was expected? 

The outcome of today’s summit was far more optimistic than anyone had expected and suggests that a divorce deal could still be done between Britain and the EU.

How likely is a breakthrough? 

Aside from the warm words there was little concrete evidence of progress being made at today’s meeting. There is still a massive gap between the UK and EU in numerous areas, particularly on the thorny issue of the Irish backstop. 

What will happen next? 

The EU has said that it will know by the end of this week whether a deal can be agreed by next week’s crunch summit in Brussels on October 17-18. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier are meeting tomorrow morning. We should know after that meeting if we are heading for a deal. 

‘Their discussion concentrated on the challenges of customs and consent.

‘They also discussed the potential to strengthen bilateral relations, including on Northern Ireland.

‘They agreed to reflect further on their discussions and that officials would continue to engage intensively on them.

‘Following their discussions the Taoiseach will consult with the Taskforce 50 and the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will meet Michel Barnier tomorrow morning.’ 

There is speculation that the reference to Taskforce 50 – the EU’s Brexit team – could herald a change to Mr Barnier’s negotiating mandate and free up the bloc to strike a deal. 

Mr Barnier’s current guidelines were drawn up when the EU was engaging with Theresa May, and the UK side has been deeply frustrated by his determination to stick to them.  

However, despite the warm words today from Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson there is no evidence that they have found a way through the impasse.

The EU has made it clear that it needs to know by the end of this week whether a deal is possible to provide officials with enough time to hammer out the details before next week’s summit on October 17-18. 

If the bloc decides that there is no basis for a deal then it is expected to switch its attentions to whether to offer the UK a Brexit delay. 

That means the meeting between Mr Barclay and Mr Barnier tomorrow morning could be incredibly high stakes.

The technical talks on Mr Johnson’s proposed alternative for the backstop – which involves Northern Ireland staying aligned to EU regulations – seem to have stalled completely.

Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng insisted this morning there is still a ‘good chance’ to get a deal. 

‘I think that we want a spirited compromise. We want to be able to make sure that the backstop has been taken away,’ he said. 

He later added: ‘The reason the Prime Minister is meeting Leo Varadkar isn’t simply to have a social conversation, they are seriously focused on trying to resolve this issue and trying to get a deal on which basis we can leave the EU.’ 

A Government source admitted earlier that today’s summit was critical to the prospects of any kind of Brexit deal before next week’s crunch EU meeting of leaders.

The source said: ‘It is a private meeting to allow both leaders and their teams to have detailed discussions. The Varadkar meeting is probably the last chance for a breakthrough but it doesn’t look too hopeful.

‘The EU seems to be floating potential ideas that we have already rejected, but maybe the fact they are floating ideas at all means there is a space to start talking.

‘If that’s the start of a conversation and they are willing to come our way then great. But we have made our compromises.’

Remainer MPs must NOT vote for a snap election, warns ex-Chancellor Philip Hammond

Remainer MPs should not vote for a snap election even if there is a Brexit extension because it will ‘not solve the problem’, Philip Hammond warned today.

The former chancellor gave Boris Johnson another headache as he urged the government to bow to EU demands to stay in the customs union.

Mr Hammond said Brexiteers should admit there were ‘very limited benefits’ to be had from striking trade deals outside the bloc.

The intervention by Mr Hammond, who was expelled from the Tories along with 20 other MPs after backing a rebel law against No Deal, came as another ex-Cabinet minister called on the EU to give ground.

Jeremy Hunt said Brussels was making a ‘catastrophic miscalculation’ by assuming an election or referendum will lead to a softer UK stance on Brexit.

Mr Johnson is desperately scrambling to find a way to break the deadlock with the EU as the clock runs down towards a crunch summit.

European politicians made clear yesterday that a Brexit extension will only be granted to pave the way for an election or referendum.  

European Parliament president David Sassoli said he had discussed the issue with Commons Speaker John Bercow in London.

He told the European Parliament: ‘I had a fruitful discussion with Speaker Bercow in which I set out my view that any request for an extension should allow the British people to give their views in a referendum or an election.’

French Europe minister Amélie de Montchalin had the same message. 

‘If there are new elections or a referendum, if there is a political shift leading us to believe we could have a different dialogue from the one we have today, then an extension can be discussed,’ she said.

EU sources yesterday suggested Brussels could be ready to table a new offer on the backstop which would effectively put a time limit on it in a last-ditch bid to salvage the talks.

The offer, currently being ‘parked’, involves giving the Northern Ireland assembly a vote on leaving the backstop, which would see the province remain in the customs union and single market.

EU sources said it formed a key plank for ‘unlocking’ a deal.

However, they stressed it would require the UK first accepting Northern Ireland has to remain in the bloc’s customs union until the moment Stormont votes to leave it – unlikely to be before 2025.

Yesterday Mr Varadkar suggested in the Irish parliament that Dublin was open to the plan.

But it was immediately shot down by the Democratic Unionist Party and Brexiteer MPs.

Downing Street is thought to be vehemently opposed to the idea as it would involve Northern Ireland remaining in the EU’s customs territory. 

Mr Varadkar arrived at Liverpool airport for the talks with the Prime Minister earlier today

Guy Verhofstadt, pictured in the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday, today claimed that Boris Johnson was a ‘traitor’ to the UK

From a Rooney circus to a political confrontation – the luxury wedding venue where two leaders will go face-to-face

The luxury wedding venue chosen for Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar’s Brexit talks was the location for Coleen Rooney’s circus-themed 21st birthday party.

Wag Mrs Rooney, who caused an online sensation this week after alleging Rebekah Vardy’s Instagram account was the source of leaked stories about her in the media, hosted the glamorous party at Thornton Manor in 2007.

The venue is a Grade II listed building that was once the home of the soap magnate William Hesketh Lever in the village of Thornton Hough on the Wirral.

Thornton Manor, which hails itself as a ‘truly unique’ wedding venue that ‘exudes historic enchantment and charm’, is the setting of a political showdown this week between two men talking about a separation and a union of a different kind.

But it is not the first event relating to a significant milestone and involving familiar faces that has taken place here.

Back on March 31 2007, stilt walkers dressed as swans and jugglers in sailor suits greeted guests as they arrived to celebrate the 21st birthday of Rooney, then the fiancee of footballer Wayne Rooney who she went on to marry.

A giant marquee and mini funfair were erected in the garden of the 100-acre estate, and around 50 fans gathered outside hoping to catch a glimpse of celebrity guests.

Among those arriving in a fleet of black Audis were football stars Harry Kewell, Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea, and Peter Crouch with his now wife Abbey Clancy.

Guests danced to Otis Redding’s Dock Of The Bay and Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. 

There was likely to be less of a party atmosphere on Thursday afternoon as Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar arrived for their eleventh-hour rendezvous.

How close is a major breakthrough? And what is going to happen on ‘Super Saturday’ in the House of Commons? 

Boris Johnson today tried to breathe new life into his dying Brexit plan as he met Leo Varadkar for crunch talks. 

The showdown between the PM and Irish Taoiseach ended with the two men agreeing that ‘they could see a pathway to a possible deal’. 

The meeting had been viewed as the last chance to put Britain and the bloc on the path to an agreement ahead of an EU summit next week. 

An unexpectedly optimistic joint statement issued by Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar following their sit down suggests there may yet be hope of avoiding either a No Deal divorce or another Brexit delay. 

Mr Varadkar has promised to now report back to the EU while Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is due to meet the EU’s top negotiator Michel Barnier tomorrow. 

If progress can be made in the next few days it could still be possible for a deal to be done at the summit in Brussels on October 17-18.

But is a major breakthrough likely? And will Brexit happen on October 31? Here are all of the answers to all of the key questions as Brexit enters its most volatile phase yet. 

What exactly happened today?

Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar met in the north west of England for last-ditch Brexit talks. 

Mr Johnson submitted his ‘final offer’ on Brexit – including his ideas of how to replace the backstop – last week but his plan has been given short shrift by the EU.

Brussels has said that as it stands the PM’s blueprint cannot provide the basis for a deal but both the EU and the UK are reluctant to move any further.

However, neither side will want to be blamed for a No Deal split which was at least a partial driver of today’s meeting between the PM and the Taoiseach. 

Boris Johnson met with Leo Varadkar at Thornton Manor near Liverpool today for last ditch Brexit talks

Mr Varadkar has been downbeat on Mr Johnson’s Brexit proposals. The Irish border remains the main stumbling block to a deal being done but today the two leaders said there was a ‘pathway to a possible deal’

Joint statement on Brexit from Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar

The PM and the Irish Taoiseach met for approximately three hours today to try to hammer out a way forward on Brexit. 

They issued the following joint statement after the meeting concluded: 

‘The Prime Minister and Taoiseach have had a detailed and constructive discussion.

‘Both continue to believe that a deal is in everybody’s interest. They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal.

‘Their discussion concentrated on the challenges of customs and consent.

‘They also discussed the potential to strengthen bilateral relations, including on Northern Ireland.

‘They agreed to reflect further on their discussions and that officials would continue to engage intensively on them.

‘Following their discussions the Taoiseach will consult with the Taskforce 50 and the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will meet Michel Barnier tomorrow morning.’ 

The Irish border issue remains the main stumbling block to a deal and Downing Street is hoping Mr Varadkar could soften his stance and persuade the EU to look again at the PM’s plan.  

Today’s talks lasted for approximately three hours and the two leaders issued a statement after they had finished which gave a glimmer of hope that a deal could still be done. 

The statement said the talks were ‘detailed and constructive’ and crucially added: ‘Both continue to believe that a deal is in everybody’s interest. They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal.’

Mr Varadkar will now discuss the meeting with the EU’s Brexit taskforce while Mr Barclay will meet Mr Barnier tomorrow morning.

How likely is it that Mr Varadkar is going to budge? 

Not very. Dublin views Mr Johnson’s proposals on replacing the Irish backstop as deeply problematic and under-cooked. There are two main problems.  

Mr Johnson wants Northern Ireland to leave the EU’s customs union at the same time as the rest of the UK and he has urged the bloc to simplify and waive customs rules to keep cross-border trade as frictionless as possible.

The EU is unlikely to ever go for that idea and does not believe the UK’s plan of conducting checks far away from the border would work. 

Then there is the so-called ‘Stormont Lock’: Mr Johnson has proposed that the Northern Ireland Assembly should be given a say on what happens with the border in the future. 

Every four years the assembly would be asked to vote on the issue. But Dublin believes this is a flawed approach because it would effectively hand a veto to the DUP.

The statement issued by Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar today said their discussion had ‘concentrated on the challenges of customs and consent’. 

However, it did not give any clues as to how the sizeable gap between Britain and Brussels on those two issues could be bridged.  

So what will happen next?

The outcome of today’s talks will definitely have been at the more optimistic end of Downing Street’s expectations. 

It has set up what could be a frantic 24 hours. The EU has said that it needs to know by the end of this week whether a deal is possible because it will need time to work on the details ahead of an EU summit on October 17-18. 

That means Mr Barclay’s meeting with Mr Barnier is now of major significance. 

But if there is no progress towards an agreement by close of play Friday it is likely that the EU will switch its attention to whether it will offer the UK a Brexit delay while Downing Street will probably focus on ramping up its No Deal efforts. 

One other thing will almost certainly happen: The blame game will properly begin.

What is Boris Johnson’s five-point plan to scrap the Irish backstop? 

Single market

Northern Ireland would leave the Customs’ Union with the rest of the UK but stay in the single market. 

This would constitute an ‘all island regulatory zone’ that covers trade of all goods. It would mean no checks between the two nations, because Northern Ireland would still have to follow EU rules.

Goods from Britain to Northern Ireland would effectively be managed by a border in the Irish Sea, with checks only in that direction, not the reverse. 

Stormont Lock 

The ‘all island regulatory zone’ will have to be approved by the people of Northern Ireland. This means the Northern Ireland Assembly has the right to veto the zone and could hold a referendum on the matter. 

Customs checks

Customs checks would have to be put in place on trade between Northern and the Republic of Ireland. Most checks would be made using technology, but some would still have to be physical.  

Cash for Northern Ireland 

A promise of a ‘new deal for Northern Ireland’ means ministers putting money aside for Belfast and Dublin to help aide economic development and ensure new measures work. 

Keeping to the Good Friday agreement 

Freedom of movement between two countries will remain. New deal would confirm commitment to collobaration between UK and Ireland. 

Then what? 

All eyes will turn to next week’s summit in Brussels. 

It is the last one scheduled before the October 31 Brexit deadline and had long been targeted as the moment at which a deal between the two sides would be rubber-stamped. 

Instead it now appears increasingly likely that the summit will be all about whether a Brexit delay is offered to the UK. 

The bloc is split three ways on the issue: Some nations favour offering a long delay to allow the UK to hold an election or referendum, some want a short but final delay to try to spark one last round of talks in the hopes of getting a deal, and some want no delay to be offered at all. 

When it comes to the crunch the EU is expected to offer an extension of some kind because failure to do so would see the bloc blamed for a bad break.

If the EU decided not to offer an extension then the UK would leave the bloc without a deal on October 31. 

Will Boris Johnson attend the summit? 

This is a very good question. If there is scope for a deal to be done then he will. 

But if no agreement is in the works and European leaders intend to debate a Brexit extension then it is thought the PM will boycott the summit. 

That would be a fairly unprecedented move for the leader of a member state but he will want nothing to do with talks relating to postponing the UK’s departure date given his ‘do or die’ pledge to deliver Brexit with or without a deal on Halloween. 

Boycotting the summit would also send a strong message to Brussels that the UK government does not want to be offered an extension. 

What about the anti-No Deal law called the Benn Act?

If there is no chance of an accord being struck at the summit the rebel legislation passed by Remain-backing MPs will take centre stage. 

It requires the PM to send a letter to the EU asking for Brexit to be pushed back to the end of January next year if no agreement has been struck by October 19. 

Mr Johnson has made clear that he will abide by the law but he has also been adamant that he will stick to his ‘do or die’ vow – two seemingly contradictory positions.  

It is thought that Mr Johnson could send the letter asking for a delay but that he would also make it plain to the EU in public and private that he does not want an extension. 

So what will happen on October 19?

It is possible and perhaps even likely that the EU will offer the UK an extension at next week’s summit. 

However, the Benn Act will still apply and the PM will still have to formally request a delay.

That means that Saturday October 19 is shaping up to be a massive moment in the Brexit process. 

The government said yesterday that it intended for the House of Commons to sit – the first Saturday sitting of Parliament since the Falklands War. 

Exactly what will happen on ‘Super Saturday’ will be determined by what happens over the next nine days but it is likely that if there is no accord Mr Johnson will ask MPs to vote on a motion in favour of a No Deal Brexit.

The Benn Act states that the UK can leave the EU without an agreement but only if a majority of MPs vote for it to do so.

If Mr Johnson won the vote he would have the green light for No Deal and would not have to write the extension letter.

But with a majority of MPs opposed to No Deal Mr Johnson would almost certainly lose such a vote. 

However, by holding it Mr Johnson would be able to show voters before a potential general election that he had tried to deliver Brexit but was thwarted by Parliament.  

If he lost the vote he would then have to send the letter to the EU – or potentially ask a civil servant to do it for him – but having made plain that he did not want to do it.  

What is the Irish backstop and why is it so divisive?

The so-called Irish border backstop is one of the most controversial parts of the existing Brexit deal. This is what it means: 

What is the backstop? 

The backstop was invented to meet promises to keep open the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland even if there is no comprehensive UK-EU trade deal.

The divorce deal says it will kick in automatically at the end of the Brexit transition period if that deal is not in place.

It effectively keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland in both the customs union and single market.

This means many EU laws will keep being imposed on the UK, restricting its ability to do its own trade deals. It also means regulatory checks on some goods crossing the Irish Sea. 

Why have Ireland and the EU demanded it? 

Because the UK is leaving the customs union and single market, the EU said it needed guarantees that people and goods circulating inside its border – in this case in Ireland – met its rules.

This is covered by the Brexit transition, which effectively maintains the status quo, and can in theory be done in the comprehensive EU-UK trade deal.

But the EU said there had to be a backstop to cover what happens in any gap between the transition and final deal.  

Why do critics hate it? 

Because Britain cannot decide when to leave the backstop. 

Getting out – even if there is a trade deal – can only happen if both sides agree and Brexiteers fear the EU will unreasonably demand the backstop continues so EU law continues to apply in Northern Ireland.  

Northern Ireland MPs also hate the regulatory border in the Irish Sea, insisting it unreasonably carves up the United Kingdom.   

Does the PM have any other options? 

He could refuse to send the letter but that would trigger an immediate court battle and almost certainly prompt a number of Cabinet ministers to quit. 

The PM would probably then lose in court and be compelled, kicking and screaming, by judges to send the letter.

He could also try to send two letters – one to comply with the law and one telling the EU not to grant a delay – but that would also likely result in a legal challenge, with the PM probably accused of trying to frustrate the purpose of the Benn Act. 

He could also opt to resign rather than write the letter but that would be the nuclear option. 

If Remain-MPs were so concerned that Mr Johnson was seemingly not going to comply with the Benn Act they could try to oust him with a vote of no confidence. 

That would then clear the way for a government of national unity to be formed with the single task of securing a delay and stopping No Deal. 

However, that would be an incredibly risky approach because there is no guarantee that Mr Johnson would resign as PM even if he lost a vote of no confidence. 

There is also no guarantee that any one MP would be able to unite a Commons majority behind them. 

If an extension is offered and agreed, will there then be a general election?

Yes, almost certainly. Opposition leaders including Jeremy Corbyn have said that they will agree to an early election if and when a No Deal Brexit has been ruled out.

If the EU agree to a delay then MPs could vote to trigger a snap poll. 

There are two mechanisms for holding an early election. The first is for the PM to be defeated on a confidence motion and then two weeks pass without another confidence vote being won. 

The second – and more likely route – is to have two-thirds of the Commons vote for an early election. 

General elections must have a 25 day campaign period by law which means that if MPs vote for one in the aftermath of next week’s summit a potential polling day would be November 28.

Could there still be a second referendum? 

A general election looks more likely but there are plenty of MPs who want a second referendum instead. 

Former Tory Sir Oliver Letwin has warned that an election would not be a satisfactory way of settling the Brexit debate, as it would be clouded by a host of other political issues. 

Tony Blair, the former Labour PM, has said the same thing while other senior parliamentary figures are sympathetic to such concerns. 

The route to a referendum would probably involve defeating Mr Johnson in a confidence vote, and then replacing him with a ‘unity’ candidate as PM such as Labour’s Margaret Beckett or ex-chancellor Ken Clarke. They would then push through the legislation for a referendum. 

However, it looks like a very tricky proposition, with estimates that it could take up to six months to prepare a national ballot. There are also major questions about what the question would be, and whether No Deal would be on the ballot paper.

What happens if Boris Johnson wins a majority at the early election? 

Downing Street has suggested that the PM could fight an election on a No Deal platform on the grounds that the EU has shown it will not compromise. 

The pledge to make a ‘clean break’ would be designed to absorb the votes that have flowed from the Tories, and indeed Labour in its northern heartlands, to the Brexit Party. 

Victory could require a fundamental realignment of the country’s traditional political dividing lines, with the Conservatives needing seats like Bolsover – stronghold of hard-left veteran Dennis Skinner. 

With a Commons majority and a new mandate, Mr Johnson could then take the UK out of the EU without a deal – or have more leverage to extract concessions from Brussels.

However, pivoting to supporting No Deal as his preferred option would likely cause an exodus of moderate Tory MPs from the Conservative Party who would refuse to campaign for a bad break. 

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in Northampton today, has said he will back an early general election when a No Deal Brexit has been ruled out

What happens if Jeremy Corbyn wins a majority at the early election?

On current polling, Labour looks unlikely to secure a majority by itself. But the SNP has signalled it could prop him up, in return for permission to hold a new independence referendum. 

Labour has vowed to renegotiate the existing Brexit deal and go into an election promising to hold a second Brexit referendum between a new divorce package and Remain.

What if there is another hung Parliament?  

With the polls highly volatile, it looks quite possible that an election could deliver broadly similar numbers to the current Parliament. 

This would be possibly the most disconcerting outcome for the country – sending politicians straight back to the drawing board to try and final a way to break the deadlock.    

‘Let’s have that election!’ Jeremy Corbyn tees up poll showdown within WEEKS as he says the country should vote once Brexit is delayed – but he faces mass rebellion by up to 100 of his own Remainer MPs who want a referendum first

Jeremy Corbyn is facing a huge revolt by his own MPs today after he delivered his clearest sign yet that he is willing to back a snap election in November.

In a keynote speech, the Labour leader accused Boris Johnson of ‘using the Queen’ to deliver a pre-election Tory party political broadcast at next week’s State Opening of Parliament.

But he also underlined that he is ‘ready’ to support the PM’s call for an election as soon as a Brexit extension is in place – saying he is ‘champing at the bit’ for voters to get their say. 

The stance paves the way for an election at the end of next month, with Thursday, November 28 considered the most likely date.

However, Remainers are preparing an all-out bid to force a referendum to cancel Brexit first, with Labour backbenchers warning that Mr Corbyn is a ‘liability’ and an election will not resolve the issue. 

There are claims up to 100 MPs could defy the whip to block a motion triggering a ballot – which requires support from two-thirds of the Commons. 

Mr Johnson is desperately scrambling to find a way to break the deadlock with the EU as the clock runs down towards a crunch summit next week. 

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured giving his speech today) will accuse Boris Johnson of ‘using the Queen’ to deliver a pre-election party political broadcast

But hopes of an agreement look almost dead, and a Remainer law will kick in on October 19 obliging him to beg the EU for a delay to the Halloween exit date. 

The Commons is being summoned for a special sitting that day, with Mr Johnson likely to make a big show of demanding that MPs allow him to go through with No Deal. 

However, the expectation is that the government will eventually have to abide by the legislation and request an extension.  

Mr Johnson has already failed two times to force an early general election, which requires backing from two-thirds of the Commons.

Mr Corbyn will signal in Northampton later that he could order MPs to vote in favour at a third attempt.

However, it is far from clear that all his MPs will follow his lead.

One shadow cabinet source told MailOnline the election would become a ‘big issue’ for the party and there is widespread support for an ‘actual confirmatory ballot’.

‘What happens if an election results in another hung parliament? (Theresa) May held an election to resolve Brexit,’ they said. 

‘Tory moderates don’t want a winter general election from what we can tell.’

Mr Corbyn was accompanied at the speech today by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott

MPs said a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party recently had been ‘unanimous’ in saying there should be a referendum before an election. 

One senior backbencher told MailOnline they believed Mr Corbyn would retreat in the face of massive internal opposition, including from shadow cabinet figures such as Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer.

‘The idea of a confirmatory ballot is gathering support. As a matter of principle it should be sort Brexit first, general election second,’ the MP said. 

Mr Corbyn’s plans for the country

In his speech in Northampton today, Mr Corbyn set out plans to:  

  • ‘Immediately legislate’ to hold a second referendum if the party wins the next election  
  • Scrap the current £9,000-per-year university tuition fees
  • Bring England in to line with Scotland, Wales an Northern Ireland by making medical prescriptions free
  • End the controversial Universal Credit system of benefits
  • Build one million ‘affordable homes’ over the next 10 years
  • Introduce extra funding for local authorities whi have experienced cuts in recent years
  • Take a 51 per cent public stake in wind farms to help coastal communities and tackle climate change
  • Raise the minimum wage rise to £10 an hour for all workers aged 16 and over

Another Remain-backing MP said they believed the 22 former Tories will be the key to whether there is a shift towards a second referendum.

The MP, who has spoken to a number of the former Tory rebels, believes they are moving towards backing a referendum at least in part because they have no incentive to back a general election.

If most of those 21 MPs were to back a referendum the thinking is that could then prompt Jeremy Corbyn to shift Labour’s position.

The MP told MailOnline: ‘If you add them to the rest of us there is a little gap in the clouds for the plane to fly through.

‘They wanted a deal, they don’t particularly want to Remain, but they definitely fear and hate No Deal.’

On how MPs could force a vote on holding a second referendum, the MP said: ‘If the government table any motion at all they are all amendable. Now we are in a period where MPs are not just reactive but proactive so there are all sorts of opportunities.’

Tory outcasts such as ex-Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin have called for a referendum to be held first. 

Former chancellor Philip Hammond added his weight to the argument this morning, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t think an election solves our problem here. I would not support an election at the moment.

‘Ironically, a few weeks ago we were being asked to give assurances that we wouldn’t vote against the Government in a vote of no confidence and now we’re being asked to vote to turn the Government out.’

He said a confirmatory referendum ‘is not my preferred option’, but did not rule one out.

But a shadow cabinet minister, not normally a Corbyn loyalist, told MailOnline that those pushing for a second referendum were engaging in ‘wishful thinking’ and their plans were ‘fanciful’.

‘The facts on the ground in the end are we have a country with no government,’ they said. ‘You can share their concerns, but there never has been a majority for a second referendum in the House of Commons. The maths on that has not changed for 12 months.’ 

They added: ‘I can understand the wishful thinking, but we are in a mess, there has got to be a very clear route through this. 

‘Our Parliament and our politics is paralysed at the most critical time when really big decisions are required, never mind about Brexit but on other fronts from a faltering economy to a flare-up in the Middle East with Turkey and Syria. 

‘There is a lot of really big business as usual that the government is unable to cope with.’ 

In his speech in Northamptonshire today, Mr Corbyn again set out his plan for Labour to get into power, renegotiate a deal with the EU, and then hold a referendum between that package and Remain.

However, extraordinarily, he suggested he will not campaign for either side in the national vote.

‘Within three months of coming to power, a Labour government will secure a sensible deal, based on the terms we have long advocated and discussed with the EU, trade unions and businesses, including a new customs union, a close single market relationship and guarantees of rights and protections,’ he said.

‘Within six months of being elected we will put that deal to a public vote alongside remain.

‘And as prime minister I will carry out whatever the people decide.’ 

Mr Corbyn said the Queen’s Speech on Monday would be a ‘farce’.

‘This Government isn’t going to put any legislation before Parliament,’ he said.

‘It has a majority of minus 45, a 100 per cent record of defeat in the Commons and is seeking a general election which will end the parliamentary session the Queen is about to open.

‘Holding a Queen’s Speech before an election is a cynical stunt.

‘Johnson is using the Queen to deliver a pre-election party political broadcast for the Conservative Party.’

The Labour leader insisted the issue of a no-deal Brexit had to be sorted out before a general election because Mr Johnson could not be trusted.

Mr Corbyn said: ‘Prime Minister, we can’t trust you not to break the law because you’ve got form.

‘We can’t trust you not to use the period of an election campaign to drive our country off a no-deal cliff edge that will crash our economy, destroy jobs and industries, cause shortages of medicine and food and endanger peace in Northern Ireland.

The Labour leader is set to say that the country could not trust Boris Johnson ‘not to break the law’. Pictured: PM in Downing Street today

‘So it’s simple: obey the law, take No Deal off the table and then let’s have the election.

‘We’re ready and champing at the bit.

‘There’s only one reason it hasn’t happened yet – we can’t trust you.’

Mr Corbyn will lay out his alternative Queen’s Speech, calling it ‘the most radical of modern times’.

It would include a ‘final say Brexit referendum’, a £10-an-hour minimum wage, banning fracking, scrapping tuition fees, ending rough sleeping and free personal care and prescriptions.

Mr Corbyn’s speech is also set to say: ‘We might be just weeks away from the first Queen’s Speech of a Labour government.

‘And in that Queen’s Speech, Labour will put forward the most radical, hopeful, people-focused programme in modern times: a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild and transform our country.’

Mr Johnson was accused of dragging the Queen into politics over his bid to suspend Parliament.

The Prime Minister was heavily criticised after a Supreme Court ruling last month found there was no ‘reasonable justification’ for his advice to the monarch to prorogue Parliament for five weeks in the run-up to the State Opening. 

Is the UK going to dodge a Brexit recession? The economy GREW over the summer driven by the television and film industry

Britain could avoid falling into recession ahead of Brexit after encouraging economic figures were released today.

UK GDP grew by 0.3 per cent between June and August compared with the previous three months, driven by a boom in television and film production, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The figure, a boost from growth of 0.1 per cent in the three months to July, came despite continued poor performance among manufacturers as the market attempts to prepare for Brexit.

The economy dipped by 0.1 per cent during the school holidays in August, following 0.4 per cent growth in July.

But quarterly figures are seen as less volatile and experts said the three-month data suggests the UK will eke out growth overall in the third quarter.

This would mean the UK avoids a technical recession, following the 0.2 per cent contraction in the second quarter, driven by the abandoned Brexit date of March 29.

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Benjamin Tucker

Benjamin Tucker

I am Benjamin Tucker and I’m passionate about business and finance news with over 4 years in the industry starting as a writer working my way up into senior positions. I am the driving force behind Block Chains Job with a vision to broaden the company’s readership throughout 2016. I am an editor and reporter of “Services” category.

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