BORIS Johnson could try a second route to secure a snap general election using the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

And there is speculation at Westminster that the SNP could help him hold a quick poll.

The Prime Minister failed to secure the two-thirds majority of MPs needed under the Act but, in a statement following it, will lay out his next move.

A No 10 senior source made clear that if the FTPA route is closed off by MPs – which seems highly likely given Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have said they will not support it – then Downing St would “bring forward further options”.

He then said: “The PM has been clear if he can’t get the bill through, the next step will be an election.”

The source insisted Mr Johnson was “not going to step down” and that an election was now the “only choice”.

One option could be that Mr Johnson tables a new bill on Thursday, which says that, notwithstanding the FTPA, there should be an election; any such new bill would only require a simple majority to pass.

The question will then be whether the likes of Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems could resist a second chance of having a snap election.

Earlier this week, Ian Blackford, the Nationalist leader at Westminster, said: "If there is a general election, there is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Scotland to send a very clear message to Westminster that we should be able to determine our own future."

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, tweeted: "Opposition must get [the extension]Bill through and then seek to force election BEFORE Parliament prorogued."

But Labour's Ian Murray warned the SNP it was "risking a no-deal Brexit by walking into a Boris trap".

The Edinburgh South MP explained the extension bill only compelled the PM to ask for a Brexit delay if he could not agree a deal or a no-deal through Parliament by October 19 and it was only after that date that the legislation would be implemented; plus, it was only after October 31 that an extension would be guaranteed.

“The Bill preventing a no-deal Brexit has to be implemented, not just passed, before an election is called," declared Mr Murray.

“The SNP risk falling right into Boris Johnson’s trap if they back an election before October 31 and they risk a no-deal Brexit that would be disastrous for Scotland and the UK."

He added: "We must let Boris Johnson stew in his juices to expose his constant lies." 

The Downing St source explained how the Government would set out its plans this evening.

"We will set out our plans to ensure that if Parliament wrecks the negotiating position, then the British public gets to choose who goes to Brussels on October 17[for the European Council] to secure that deal.”

He added: “The PM has been clear he will not go to Brussels to ask for an extension. He is not going to ask for an extension.”

No 10 confirmed Mr Johnson would open this evening’s FTPA debate. His spokesman said: "The Prime Minister, while not wanting an election, believes that if his negotiating position has been destroyed, then that should be tested at an election and the public should be able to decide on the next steps forward."

At his first Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson branded MPs’ bid to push back Brexit Day to January 31 as a "surrender Bill," which would "wreck any chance of the talks" to achieve a new deal with Brussels.

He challenged Jeremy Corbyn: "Can he confirm now that he will allow the people of this country to decide on what he is giving up in their name with a general election on October 15; or is he frit?"

The Labour leader questioned the PM over reports his strategy in Brexit talks was to "run down the clock" ahead of the deadline.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson faced a backlash over his decision to throw Tory rebels out of the parliamentary party after their disloyalty in Tuesday night's vote.

He removed the whip from 21 Conservative MPs after they voted against the Government in order to allow time for the backbench Brexit extension bill to be debated today.

Those sacked include Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart, all of whom were serving in Theresa May's Cabinet just weeks ago. Party stalwarts Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill's grandson, were also dismissed.

An apparently distraught Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader, took to social media, tweeting: "How, in the name of all that is good and holy, is there no longer room in the Conservative Party for @NSoames? #anofficerandagentleman."

Lord Kenneth Baker, the former party Chairman, said: "These 21 MPs are not parvenus seeking to infiltrate the party, they are lifelong Tories in their mind and in their bones."

He warned the party owes its success to being a broad church which had kept policy decisions out of the hands of "swivel-eyed ideologues", and called for the 21 to be allowed to stand again for the Conservatives at the next election.

But Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Minister, defended the action.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It was very clearly stated that Conservative MPs would lose the whip.

"Now 21 of them out of 312 - that is about six per cent - chose to vote against the Government and they had the whip withdrawn.

“It is a shame - a lot of them are very talented people. But you cannot have people standing as Conservative MPs when they are against the Government's policy on the key issue of the day."

Mr Stewart, who was a candidate in the recent Tory leadership race, said he was told about the decision to withdraw the whip by text message.

He called it an "astonishing moment" at the end of what has been a hectic six-week period for the Penrith and the Border MP, after his high-profile leadership bid.

"It feels a little bit like something you associate with other countries - one opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and one's seat too," added the Scot.