Jeremy Corbyn has said an election “is coming” – but he won’t allow Boris Johnson to “dictate the terms”.
The Labour leader accused the prime minister of “running away from scrutiny” and pledged to “unleash the biggest people-powered campaign we’ve ever seen” when the nation does go to the polls.
His address to delegates at the TUC conference in Brighton comes on the first day of parliament’s controversial five-week suspension.
Labour and other opposition parties united on Monday to block Mr Johnson’s second attempt at getting MPs to vote for an early election next month.
They want the PM to formally request a Brexit delay – the aim of legislation passed by opposition MPs last week – and avoid the prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October.
Mr Johnson came to office promising to take Britain out of the bloc on that date, without a deal if necessary.
But this approach provoked fierce opposition from the other parties, who fear a no-deal scenario would damage Britain’s economy.
This is why they rushed through a bill aimed at avoiding no-deal.
However, there have been hints from ministers in recent days that the government is looking at loopholes to get around the law and still take Britain out of the EU next month.
Mr Corbyn referenced this in his speech, saying: “No-one can trust the word of a prime minister who is threatening to break the law to force through no-deal.
“So a general election is coming. But we won’t allow Johnson to dictate the terms.
“And I can tell you this: We’re ready for that election.
“We’re ready to unleash the biggest people-powered campaign we’ve ever seen.”
The Labour leader said a no-deal Brexit would be felt mostly by ordinary Britons.
“Johnson’s reckless no-deal would destroy jobs, push up food prices in the shops and cause shortages of everyday medicines that people rely on,” Mr Corbyn said.
“And who bears the cost of that? It wouldn’t be Johnson and his wealthy friends. It’s not their livelihoods on the line. It would be the rest of us.
“Just as it wasn’t the bankers Boris Johnson still defends who paid the price for the financial crash of 2008, it was tens of millions of people who had nothing to do with it.”
Mr Corbyn claimed the Conservatives would use a no-deal Brexit “crash” to “push through policies that benefit them and their super-rich supporters and hurt everyone else – just as they did after the financial crash”.
He added: “Under the cover of no-deal they will sell off our public services, strip away the regulations that keep us safe, and undermine workers’ rights.”