Johnson breaks cover as Labour plans to block no deal

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Today is the day that proper scrutiny of Boris Johnson starts… we hope. The Tory leadership frontrunner will ‘break cover’ and officially launch his campaign this morning, in what will be only his second public event of the year. Until now, Johnson has been working behind closed doors to persuade MPs to endorse him, but he will soon have to start giving broadcast interviews – and that’s when it could all come crashing down. With any luck, it will sound something like the unedifying interview with backer Liz Truss on Today earlier, or the famous Eddie Mair grilling from 2013.

Meanwhile, Johnson supporters are delighted by new ComRes polling for the Daily Telegraph. Combined with analysis by Electoral Calculus, it suggests that a Conservative Party led by the former Foreign Secretary would win a 140-seat majority at the next election. This is the reason for which many Tory MPs who have previously been disgusted by the idea of Johnson as Prime Minister are now planning to vote for him: they think an early election is very likely and he’s their winning ticket.

The research is being taken with several large pinches of salt by his detractors, however. Hypothetical polling should always be treated with caution. And in the words of Nick Boles: “Watch how Tory MPs and commentators swoon over a soufflé-like opinion survey produced by the pollster that predicted a landslide victory for Theresa May in 2017. Commissioned of course by the Johnson fanzine that used to be known as the Telegraph.”

This afternoon, we could get further insight into our chances of a snap election. As mentioned in yesterday’s email, it looked like Labour was planning something special for its opposition day debate – and we now know that to be true. Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a cross-party motion that aims to give MPs control of the parliamentary agenda on Tuesday 25th June. If passed, the Commons could consider legislation designed to prevent a future Prime Minister from forcing through ‘no deal’ against the wishes of parliament. This is a similar tactic to the one used by backbenchers before the 29th March deadline.

Rory Stewart says he won’t be voting for the motion (Remainer centrists who’ve been fawning over him, take note). But Oliver Letwin is a signatory, and other anti-no-deal Tory MPs are expected to join him in supporting the move. Only a small number of Conservative rebels are needed to defeat the government – as long as Labour MPs who want to see Brexit delivered do not defy their own party whip and vote against the motion. The result of this vote will either show that leadership contenders such as Andrea Leadsom are right and parliament cannot stop no deal, or that we are very close to a general election being held before the Tories are able to deliver Brexit. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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