Jeremy Corbyn has called on the UK’s most senior civil servant to intervene to stop Boris Johnson forcing a no-deal Brexit in the middle of an election campaign, amid rising signs the country is heading for the polls again this autumn.
The Labour leader wrote to Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, accusing the prime minister of plotting an “unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power”, after it emerged No 10 would be prepared to delay an election until immediately after 31 October if Johnson loses a no confidence vote among MPs.
In his letter, Corbyn demanded urgent clarification of the rules around purdah, which are meant to prevent the government taking major policy decisions during an election campaign.
He asked Sedwill to confirm that if the UK is due to leave the EU without a deal during an election campaign, then the government must seek an extension to article 50 and allow an incoming administration to take a decision about Brexit on the basis of the result.
“Forcing through no deal against a decision of parliament, and denying the choice to the voters in a general election already underway, would be an unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power by a prime minister elected, not by the public, but by a small number of unrepresentative Conservative party members,” he said.
“I am therefore writing to seek your urgent clarification on the proper application of ‘purdah’ rules in such a scenario and the constitutional implications of failing to abide by those rules.”
Corbyn released the letter as No 10 refused to rule out delaying an election until the immediate few days after Brexit on 31 October if one is triggered by MPs voting down Johnson’s government and failing to form another administration. Read more