Boris Johnson will not resign if MPs hand him another defeat by voting down his legislative agenda set out in the Queen’s Speech, Downing Street has said.
Number 10 also made it clear the prime minister could plough on to introduce all the Bills announced, even if parliament rejected his government’s programme.
Johnson on Monday used his first Queen’s Speech as PM to insist the government’s priority is delivering Brexit by the October 31 deadline.
A raft of anti-crime bills also dominated the state opening of parliament, which also saw legislation proposed on immigration and the environment.
Opposition leaders accused the PM of using the speech as a pre-election stunt to win over voters, while Jeremy Corbyn branded it a “farce”.
With Johnson commanding no majority in the Commons after expelling 21 rebels who defied him over a no-deal Brexit, there is every chance his set piece announcement is defeated.
Asked if Johnson would resign if he is handed such a blow, the prime minister’s official spokesman flatly replied: “No.”
He later added: “If MPs do choose to vote against the Queen’s Speech it will be up to them to explain to the public why they are voting against greater support for our public services, including police, schools and hospitals.”
He also ruled out a defeat on the Queen’s Speech being a matter of confidence, which could pave the way for an early general election.
And asked whether the PM could continue to progress the bills through parliament even if the speech is defeated, his spokesman replied: “Yes, you can.”
When that vote will take place depends on how quickly debates take place and whether a special sitting of parliament is held on Saturday for a showdown over Brexit.
But typically the speech is debated for six days, according to the House of Commons.
With the PM pushing for a snap general election, the legislative programme presented was being seen as a bid by Johnson to set out his campaign agenda.
The Labour leader told the Commons: “There has never been such a farce as a government with a majority of -45 and a 100% record of defeat in the House of Commons setting out a legislative agenda they know cannot be delivered in this parliament.”
He also suggested he could shortly back calls for a general election, saying “we may only be just weeks away” from a Queen’s Speech under a Labour government.
Ahead of the speech, the pre-election atmosphere intensified as Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a Budget on November 6 – just six days after the UK’s scheduled exit date from the EU.
In a heavily-previewed package of 26 bills, seven related to crime and justice.
Ministers are preparing to rush through a bill to ratify any Brexit deal Johnson is able to agree this week in Brussels in time for Britain to leave on schedule.