WASHINGTON - Updated Sept. 2, 2019, 3:40p.m.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened Monday to expel any Conservative Party rebels if they try to block his push for a no-deal exit next month from the European Union.
Johnson has only a one-seat majority in the House of Commons. But as parliament returns Tuesday from its summer recess, as many as 20 Tory rebels could join opposition lawmakers to tie the government's hands against Johnson's efforts to quit the EU on Oct. 31 without spelling out the terms of the divorce.
He assailed attempts to delay Britain's departure from the EU, contending that it would "chop the legs" out of Britain's attempt at negotiating better terms for splitting from the bloc.
Johnson met with his Cabinet ministers, stoking speculation that he would call for a snap election next month if parliament rejects his Brexit plans, possibly a vote ahead of a mid-October summit of EU leaders on final terms of Britain's departure from the 28-nation bloc after 46 years of membership. But Johnson said he does not want a new election.
"Let's let our negotiators get on with their work, without that 'sword of Damocles' over their necks, and without an election, without an election," he said. "I don't want an election, you don't want an election. Let's get on with the people's agenda."
Johnson became prime minister after the country's former leader, Theresa May, failed in three parliamentary votes to win approval for the Brexit terms she negotiated with the EU.
A no-deal departure from the EU could lead to economic turmoil, ending decades of Britain's seamless trade with the EU, its biggest trading partner.
But Johnson said he is determined to leave the EU, even without a deal.
"There are no circumstances under which I will ask Brussels to delay," Johnson said. "We're leaving the 31st of October, no ifs or buts."
Former Justice Minister David Gauke told the BBC, "Their strategy to be honest is to lose this week and then seek a general election having removed those of us... who believe we should leave with a deal."
Opposition Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said, "We want a general election" to oust what he described as Johnson's "phony, populist cabal."
Corbyn said, "We must come together to stop no deal - this week could be our last chance."
But former Labor leader Tony Blair warned Corbyn, a veteran socialist, said that an election is an "elephant trap" Johnson has laid for Labor.
"Boris Johnson knows that if no-deal Brexit stands on its own as a proposition it might well fail," Blair said, "but if he mixes it up with the Corbyn question in a general election he could succeed despite a majority being against a no-deal Brexit because some (voters) may fear a Corbyn premiership more."
The Ladbrokes betting house said odds now are that there will be an election next month, with a 75% probability there would be one before the end of 2019.