Prime Minister Boris Johnson could make a third attempt to call a snap election, according to reports.
Number 10 sources had said on Wednesday that if Brussels agrees to a Brexit delay, “then the only way the country can move on is with an election.”
With reports that the EU leaders are set to announce backing for an extension of Article 50 tomorrow, The Times claims that Mr Johnson is set to table a motion either on Thursday night or Monday calling for MPs to decide before the October 31st Brexit deadline whether to hold an election.
Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, an election must be held on the first Thursday of May every five years. The next scheduled election in is 2022, and to conduct an earlier vote, the motion must gain a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons. Labour has already twice rejected similar proposals last month.
Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly suggested that an election could be held as early as December, and criticised Labour for avoiding the vote. “We’ve been calling for a general election for months now, and the Labour Party are running scared,” Mr Cleverly said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The official Labour position remains that Jeremy Corbyn will only back an election after a Brexit delay is secured. The Guardian reports he is facing increasing pressure from his party to reject the prime minister’s bid. Party figures want to prioritise holding a second referendum — in hopes of cancelling Brexit — instead.
One source told The Guardian that up to half of Labour MPs could rebel and defy the whip to vote against an election. Another told the newspaper: “It’s fair to say there’s not a great appetite for an election in December.”
Britons Support an Early General Election by Two-to-One https://t.co/86i4dxEUOB
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 24, 2019
Mr Johnson is also facing a split in his Cabinet over whether to push for an early election or pass a deal, according to The Times.
Government ministers Nicky Morgan, Julian Smith, and Matt Hancock are reportedly backing passing a deal through parliament and then holding a snap election, while Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sajid Javid, and Priti Patel calling for an immediate election.
“We should be taking the fight to the opposition and going for an election. Theresa May made a big error trying to negotiate with people whose only interest is stopping us delivering on our promises,” one Cabinet minister said.
The speculation comes after Prime Minister Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal bill passed its first hurdle in the House of Commons. Still, MPs voted down his timetable that would have ensured the UK left the EU as scheduled on October 31st.
A YouGov poll published on Wednesday revealed that Britons back a fresh election to shake up the deadlocked parliament two-to-one.
Tusk Tells European Leaders to Agree Brexit Extension to Stop No Deal https://t.co/FwakKQmo52
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 23, 2019