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Johnson: I’d rather be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit

The Prime Minister was speaking after his brother Jo Johnson resigned from his government.

Boris Johnson: Country must have choice of general election. <strong>WPA Pool / Getty Images</strong>
Boris Johnson: Country must have choice of general election. WPA Pool / Getty Images

Beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeated his call for a general election and said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit further.

Speaking for the first time since his own brother Jo Johnson dramatically resigned from his government, the PM said it showed Brexit “divides families”.

On leaving the EU, Johnson said the British public wants to “get this thing done” and accused opposition MPs of causing “unnecessary delay”.

It comes the day after backbench MPs backed legislation aimed at stopping a no-deal Brexit and further delaying the current departure date of October 31 if necessary.

Johnson’s motion calling for an early general election was then knocked back, failing to gain the two-thirds majority needed after hundreds of MPs abstained.

Speaking to police officers in Yorkshire on Thursday, the Prime Minister said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than request a further extension to the Brexit date from Brussels.

But opposition parties including Labour and the SNP are refusing to back a snap poll until the anti-no deal Bill has become law, which would force the PM to seek a Brexit delay if he cannot get Parliament’s backing for his plans.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party is divided on whether to agree to an October election before the Brexit deadline – as Johnson wishes – or wait until after it.

Shortly before Johnson’s address, the Scottish Parliament voted symbolically but emphatically to reject a no-deal Brexit “under any circumstances” by 87 votes to 28.

Johnson said his brother Jo “does not agree with me about the European Union because it’s an issue that obviously divides families and divides everybody”.

The younger Johnson announced on Thursday morning he would be leaving his government role as business minister and quitting as an MP.

The Remain-voting politician cited “resolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest”.

The Prime Minister said his brother was a “fantastic guy” and a “brilliant minister”, however, he acknowledged they did not agree on Brexit.

But he added: “What Jo would agree is that we need to get on and sort this thing out.”

Johnson went on: “I’m going to do everything that I possibly can to make sure that this country comes out of the EU on October 31.

“But unfortunately Parliament voted yesterday effectively to scupper our negotiating power and to make it much more difficult for this government to get a deal.

“So what I want to do now is to really give the country a choice: we either go forward with our plan to get a deal, take the country out on October 31 which we can or else somebody else should be allowed to see if they can keep us in beyond October 31.”

The PM said he “hated banging on about Brexit”, adding: “I don’t want an election at all, but frankly I cannot see any other way.

“The only way to get this thing done, to get this thing moving, is to make that decision.”

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