Sajid Javid has refused to rule out an electoral pact with the Brexit party in the event of a snap general election.
The chancellor said the Conservative party did not need an “electoral alliance with anyone”, but refused to rule out any agreement with Nigel Farage’s party if there was a general election.
Javid told the BBC: “We absolutely now need an election,” he said. “It’s sad we’ve come to this point but it’s been forced upon us because parliament is trying to kneecap these negotiations.”
When pressed further on whether he could rule out the Tories striking an electoral pact with Farage’s party, Javid replied: “We don’t need an alliance.”
Earlier this week Boris Johnson called for an general election on 15 October under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which requires the approval of two third of the House of Commons to go through. Labour refused the offer, citing the need for an extension to Article 50 – the mechanism that allows the UK to leave the EU – to be secured beforehand.
It is expected that MPs will be given the chance to vote for a general election again on Monday.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would not agree to Johnson’s demand for an early election. “I don’t trust him an inch,” he told the BBC.
Yesterday Farage offered a “non-aggression pact” with the Tories in order to ensure the UK left the EU. Johnson has previously ruled out a partnership with Farage, saying the Brexit party leader need to be “put back in his box”.
“If we get an election, an alliance between Boris and myself done intelligently, with a clear message, I think we’ll be unstoppable,” he told the Sunday Times.
“If Boris decides the only way forward, to get Brexit delivered, is through a general election offering people a clean break, in those circumstances, I’m 100 per cent behind him wanting to win the election, there would be a non-aggression pact.”
Meanwhile, the chancellor insisted that the government would not ask Brussels for an extension to Article 50, despite both houses of parliament approving a bill tabled by Labour MP Hilary Benn that would require the Prime Minister to ask for a Brexit deadline extension if he had not secured a new deal by 19 October.
When asked whether the government would obey the bill, which is likely to be made law on Monday, Javid said “of course we will obey the law”, but added: “We will not change our policy.”
Johnson has repeatedly said he will take the UK out of the EU on 31 October “come what may” with or without a deal.
Javid also insisted that Johnson would not stand down as Prime Minister.