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Johnson ‘will not go to the polls’ despite Brecon blow

CONSERVATIVE Party chairman James Cleverly has insisted the government is not going to ‘initiate’ a general election.

It comes amid growing speculation that Boris Johnson (pictured) might go to the polls after the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election loss cut his majority to a single seat.

But Mr Cleverly insisted the party has no plans to call a vote despite last week’s defeat and a flurry of spending commitments by the ministers.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, he said: ‘We are not going to initiate a general election.

‘What we’ve got is a new prime minister who, during the leadership campaign, made a number of explicit commitments and he is setting about delivering on those commitments.’

He was speaking after Mr Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings was reported to have said that MPs could no longer block a no-deal Brexit by bringing down the government.

But former attorney general Dominic Grieve told the BBC Mr Cummings was the ‘master of disinformation’.

He said: ‘He’s right when he points out that, for the Commons to prevent a no-deal Brexit against the wishes of an administration that is hell-bent on delivering it come what may, there are a whole series of obstacles.

‘So he has a point, but I think he may also be missing the point that there are a number of things the Commons can do, including bringing down the government and setting up a new one in its place.’

Mr Grieve said that he would be prepared to be part of any push to bring down Mr Johnson’s administration to prevent a no-deal departure.

But he added that he had yet to decide whether he would leave the Conservatives as he previously indicated he would if Mr Johnson came to power.

The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, also disagreed it was too late to stop no-deal and said Labour was working with former ministers ‘foolishly’ fired when Mr Johnson became PM.

‘I don’t agree with Dominic Cummings’s analysis,’ he told the Sophy Ridge programme. ‘We are working with MPs across the House of Commons and we will work to stop no-deal.’

Meanwhile, Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay has called on EU leaders to give their chief negotiator the mandate to re-broker an agreement, otherwise no-deal ‘is coming down the tracks’.

But Mr Barclay’s plea came as more government leaks warned of the impacts a no-deal would have on the UK. Schools may have to close, food for pupils’ meals could run short and exams may be disrupted, according to Department for Education analysis obtained by The Observer.

Mr Barclay said Michel Barnier told him in discussions last week that he was bound by instructions given to him by the European Commission and leaders of member states.

But Mr Barclay argued the ‘political realities’ had altered with 61 per cent of MEPs having changed in the recent election. ‘Such a fundamental shift illustrates the need for a change of approach,’ he wrote in The Mail on Sunday.