Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit beyond next month, as he urged opposition lawmakers who oppose his plan to support an early election. MPs in the House of Commons this week passed a bill that could stop Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a divorce deal with Brussels. But they also rejected his call for a snap election to resolve the political deadlock that has characterised the past three years since the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit.
In a speech in northern England, Johnson said “I’d rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for a Brexit delay.
“We must come out of the EU on October 31,” the Conservative leader said, just hours after suffering a fresh blow with the resignation of his brother from government.
The speech, at a police academy in the city of Wakefield, was marred at the end by the apparent collapse of a police cadet standing behind him.
The event was intended to be the first step of an election campaign, before MPs rejected the poll in a vote on Wednesday night.
The vote left Johnson in limbo, his Brexit plan in tatters but with no way out after his parliamentary majority was destroyed by a Conservative party rebellion over the issue.
As a result, his government announced it would try again to force an election with a House of Commons vote on Monday, and he challenged the opposition Labour party to back it.
He expressed regret about his brother Jo’s resignation as a junior universities minister a few hours earlier, which only reinforced the sense of a government in crisis.