Thursday 5 September 2019 8:19 am

Downing Street calls today ‘first day of election’ despite failure to pull trigger

Downing Street has called today the “first day of the election campaign” despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to trigger a snap election in parliament last night.

Johnson’s office told Sky News that the PM will begin his campaign to win an election today after opposition MPs resisted his call for a 15 October vote.

Read more: PM’s election bid scuppered as Labour hold Tories until Halloween

Labour abstained from a vote on whether to hold a general election, saying they believed the government would use it to deliver a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson is in Yorkshire today where he is set to launch a campaign to recruit 20,000 police officers over the next three years.

According to Sky, the Prime Minister is expected to accuse Corbyn of blocking Brexit as well as an election.

“For Jeremy Corbyn to continue to avoid an election would be a cowardly insult to democracy,” he will reportedly say.

Treasury boss Sajid Javid told Sky today that Labour “are frightened of the British people, we are not”. 

Javid conceded that an election could be pushed back beyond 15 October if Labour force a delay, however.

“We want to go directly to the British people and ask them who they want to govern this country,” Javid said.

“And, especially when it comes to Brexit, who do they want to talk to our friends in Brussels and to get a deal so we can exit the EU on 31 October and be prepared to leave with no deal if that’s what it comes to.

“Do they think that should be Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn?”

Meanwhile parliament yesterday passed a crucial second reading of a bill to extend Article 50 if Johnson has failed to secure a Brexit deal by mid-October.

Currently Article 50 means the UK will leave the EU with or withour a deal on Halloween.

Johnson hit back that this “would scupper any serious negotiations” before the UK’s scheduled departure.

Read more: Could there be a UK general election in 2019?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to back a general election bid until legislation is passed to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

His party’s abstention means that even though Johnson won the vote to trigger an election by 298 to 56 votes, he failed to win two-thirds of MPs’ approval to carry it out.