BORIS JOHNSON is playing hardball, pouring the pressure on his own Tory MPs to make them vote with the Government this week and so leave the country open to a no-deal Brexit.

His ruthless streak is the complete opposite to the wetness of Theresa May’s approach, but success is not guaranteed.

Mr Johnson said last night that he didn’t want an election, which is true, although if there has to be an election, he wants it on his terms, so he can portray himself as the populist king of Brexit who is being thwarted by a “rebel alliance” of political opponents who want to block Brexit.

Leading that rebel alliance is Jeremy Corbyn, whom Mr Johnson namechecked last night as if he were the devil incarnate.

Labour’s one consistent Brexit policy has been to have a general election, but now that we are perhaps within days of one, is that still the case? As Tony Blair said yesterday, an election could be “an elephant trap” for Labour because it presents so many problems – particularly here in the leave-backing North-East.

Labour would presumably fight that election as essentially a remain party: its manifesto probably calling for a second referendum at which it would advocate staying in the EU.

How would that sit with the traditional Labour heartlands of County Durham which voted for change in the referendum? With Mr Johnson and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party both offering enormous no-deal change, would our traditional Labour leave voters opt for more of the same under Mr Corbyn?