Boris Johnson has accused MPs and the EU of collaborating to block Brexit, as he failed to rule out calling a general election after 31 October in order to push through the UK’s exit from the EU.
In what he branded “The People’s PMQs”, the prime minister answered “unpasteurised” and “unmediated” questions during a live broadcast on his Facebook page.
It was unclear how Mr Johnson selected the questions he chose to answer, and the format did not allow the prime minister to be challenged on any of his replies.
Mr Johnson was asked how he hoped the UK could leave the EU on 31 October, as he has promised, with the EU refusing to renegotiate the UK’s withdrawal agreement and MPs committed to blocking a no-deal Brexit.
Former chancellor Philip Hammond told the prime minister earlier on Wednesday he has “no mandate” for a no-deal Brexit and parliament will “make its voice heard”.
Mr Johnson said: “There’s a terrible kind of collaboration, as it were, going on between people who think they can block Brexit in parliament and our European friends.
“Our European friends are not moving in their willingness to compromise, they’re not compromising at all on the withdrawal agreement.
“Even though it’s been thrown out three times, they’re sticking with every letter, sticking with every comma of the withdrawal agreement, including the backstop, because they still think Brexit can be blocked in parliament.
“So the awful thing is, the longer that goes on, the more likely it is – of course – that we will be forced to leave with a no-deal Brexit.
“That’s not what I want, that’s not what we’re aiming for, but we need our European friends to compromise.
“And the more they think there’s a chance Brexit can be blocked in parliament, the more adamant they are in sticking to their position.”
It has recently been reported Downing Street is planning a general election just days after the Brexit deadline on 31 October if Mr Johnson is forced to go to the polls.
This could see MPs absent from Westminster, due to the designated campaigning period prior to an election, as the UK leaves the EU.
Asked “what lengths” he would go down to stop parliament blocking Brexit, Mr Johnson played down the prospect of a general election but did not completely rule out the prospect of going to the polls after 31 October.
He said: “The British public have had a lot of elections and electoral events.
“They had the election in 2015, they had the referendum in 2016, they had another election in 2017.
“I think what they want us to do is get on and deliver Brexit on 31 October and I never tire of telling you that is what we’re going to do.”
Mr Johnson conducted his “People’s PMQs” after being warned by Mr Hammond that he has “no mandate” to take the UK out of the EU without a divorce agreement.
The ex-chancellor is expected to join forces with fellow ex-ministers from Theresa May’s government to act against a no-deal Brexit when parliament returns from its summer recess next month.
He was among 21 Tory MPs to write to Mr Johnson this week as they urged the prime minister to confirm he is “committed to doing a deal” with the EU, accept any deal will require “compromise”, and to reiterate his view that the chance of a no deal is “less than a million to one”.
“This will reassure not only us, but also the currency markets,” they wrote, adding that the prime minister’s current “red lines” on abolishing the Irish border backstop appear to “eliminate the chance of reaching agreement with the EU”.
Despite conducting his second Facebook Live appearance since becoming prime minister, Mr Johnson has yet to take part in a sit-down interview with any major broadcaster.