Boris Johnson’s plan to hold an early general election was blocked last night after MPs told the prime minister they “could not trust him” to stage it before the Brexit deadline.
The prime minister also saw his pledge to take the UK out of the EU “do or die” on Halloween stunted after opposition MPs united to pass a law to block such a move.
The bill, which cleared the Commons by 327 votes to 299, would require the prime minister to ask Brussels for a three-month Brexit extension if a deal has not been agreed by mid-October.
After the vote Mr Johnson immediately called on MPs to grant him the authority under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act to call an early general election.
The prime minister, who faced a barrage of heckles and jeers in the Commons, said: “This is a bill designed to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history, the 2016 referendum.
“I think it’s very sad that MPs have voted like this, I do, I think it’s a great dereliction of their democratic duty.”
But opposition leaders rejected the move, saying it was a “trap”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “We want an election. We look forward to turfing this Government out.
“But the offer of an election today is like the offer of an apple to Snow White from the wicked Queen, because what he is offering is not an apple, or even an election, but the poison of no-deal.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford added: “We will not be party to Boris Johnson’s games or allow him to use an election to force a no deal Brexit through the back door.
“Simply put – the SNP could not support the motion because we do not trust the prime minister.”
Mr Johnson said: “48 hours ago he (Mr Corbyn) was leading the chant stop the coup and let the people vote, now he’s saying stop the election and stop the people from voting.
“The obvious conclusion is that he does not think he can win, I urge his colleagues to reflect on what I think is the unsustainability of this position overnight and in the course of the next few days.”
There was further drama last night when it emerged Brexiteer peers were planning to filibuster, or talk out, the bill to stop no-deal in the House of Lords.
Tory peers are intending to bog the legislation down with hundreds of amendments until Monday when Parliament is set to be prorogued and all outstanding legislation cancelled.
A spokesman for Mr Corbyn was scathing about the idea that unelected peers could scupper the bill.
He said: “At every stage of this process, the government and the prime minister and the Tory party are using anti-democratic tactics, including proroguing parliament, shutting down parliament to avoid MPs being able to debate and take action and vote on on the most pressing and important issue facing facing the country.
“We obviously are well prepared for that, and will be seeking to make sure that this bill is passed into law to give the protection against a no-deal crash-out.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister faced a further backlash yesterday over his decision to throw 21 Tory MPs out of the party after they rebelled in a key vote on Tuesday.
Party stalwart Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson, were among those dismissed.
Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: “How, in the name of all that is good and holy, is there no longer room in the Conservative Party for Sir Nicholas Soames?”
There was also increasing anger at the perceived role of Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings in the sackings.
Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said Mr Cummings had “abused and swore” at Tory rebels and should be disciplined.
“The fact that you have at the heart of No 10, as the PM’s senior adviser, an unelected, foul-mouthed oaf throwing his weight around is completely unacceptable,” he said.