Johnson survives yet another betrayal – this time his own brother.

Front Bench 

Good Morning. What happened to the BoJo magic? The PM has looked rattled this week, but his opponents are at risk of overplaying their hand.

Johnson takes campaign to Scotland, but Labour hold firm on delaying an election

Stanley (Dad).  Rachel (sister).  Boris and Jealous Jo.

With family like this, who needs enemies?

Comment from Iain Dale on – It is rumoured that Jo didn’t inform his brother what he was intending to do. On the face of it, you’d have to say that appears incredibly ruthless, if correct. Families, eh?

Daniel Capurro By Daniel Capurro, Front Bench Editor
Boris Johnson heads to Scotland today, another stop on his unofficial campaign launch for an election that isn’t yet, officially, coming. He’ll be hoping to end a rough week with a straightforward day.

– I Cain believe you just did that –

Yesterday was not a good one for the Prime Minister. It started with his brother, Jo, resigning from the Government and stepping down at the next election over Boris’s handling of Brexit. As Jo put it, he was “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”. The latter won.

The PM then held what was meant to be a campaign launch at a police training academy in Wakefield – Exhibit A for the kind of Leave-voting Labour seat that Dominic Cummings believes can sweep Johnson to a majority this autumn.

Yet rather than an easy win – talk about boosting police numbers while flanked by cops in uniform, call Corbyn a chicken, crack a joke – the PM delivered a rambling, difficult to follow speech in which he clearly looked rattled.

That’s no surprise. The resignation of his brother clearly stung and it will be a huge boost for the opposition parties who are already Trumpeting the line that if even his brother doesn’t trust him with Brexit, why should you?

– They’ve got him right where they want him –

Could there be a better time for Labour to trigger an election? Apparently yes. Jeremy Corbyn and his fellow opposition leaders still have their feet wedged firmly against the door of No10, with Johnson trapped inside.

On Monday the Government will try again to get an election, but right now it looks as if they will fail. Yesterday, Corbyn met with Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, and the two agreed that an election must not take place until after an extension has been secured from Brussels.

The thinking here is quite clear. The Prime Minister has staked his entire political reputation on leaving the EU on October 31. Johnson salvaged yesterday, to an extent, with the soundbite that he’d rather be “dead in a ditch” than extend Article 50 (although he evaded a follow-up question of whether he would resign to avoid it).

Indeed, The Spectator reports that Johnson regularly warns in private that “extension means extinction”, while The Sun has got hold of the party’s election slogan: “trust the people”.

Seen in that light, delaying an election makes absolute sense for Corbyn, and Johnson can’t exactly call him a chicken once the election is actually underway.

– Siri, define: “overplaying your hand” –

There are, however, definite costs for the opposition in delaying until November.

One, without the strict rules of a campaign in place, Downing Street will continue to use the immense power of the Government machine – from public awareness campaigns to spending announcements – to its advantage.

Two, as Stephen Bush writes in the New Statesman, without Parliament in place we return to the situation in August where the PM’s greatest source of weakness is not around to defeat him.

Blackford and Corbyn think they have a way around that. They are believed to want to trigger an election via a no-confidence vote on Monday. That should mean an election in October, but not until after the soon-to-be legal deadline for extending Article 50 has passed.

But the Liberal Democrats and dozens of Labour MPs don’t want to trigger the election until after October 31. Many of the Tory rebels, meanwhile, don’t want an election at all. They think the delay can be used variously to push Johnson into bringing back May’s deal or calling a second referendum.

Things could always change, and opposition leaders will meet again today to plot a way forward, but right now a November election seems the most likely outcome of this most dramatic of weeks.


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