Labour MPs prepare to vote against early election

Sienna Rodgers
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

LabourList understands that dozens of Labour MPs are prepared to vote against an early election proposed by Boris Johnson due to fears of one leading to no deal and widespread pessimism over the outcome of a snap poll within the parliamentary party.

The Labour Party has been consumed today by internal debate about whether its representatives in the Commons should be in favour of an early general election under any circumstances, only in certain conditions or not at all.

Disagreement within the PLP intensified after Sky News correspondent Kate McCann tweeted: “Just grabbed Mr Corbyn at the end of the press conference and he said Labour WILL back a general election under ANY circumstances if Boris Johnson were to call one: “Of course, we are the opposition party, we want a general election” he said… sadly not on camera!”

“There’s very strong views in the PLP against [an early election] until at least no deal has been ruled out,” one backbench Labour MP told LabourList. The MP estimated that “over 100″ colleagues agree with the view expressed by Peter Kyle, who tweeted this afternoon that Brexit should be settled before a general election is held.

Shadow cabinet members Keir Starmer and Andrew Gwynne have confirmed on the record that Labour would not support holding an election if it meant no deal would happen during the course of the campaign period, before polling day, when MPs would not be sitting.

Would those Labour MPs concerned about no deal therefore vote for an election if it were held before October 31st? “That’s still problematic,” the Labour MP told LabourList. “If we had it when we came back, that would be better. At this stage, we’ll have to vote against any dissolution.”

Jeremy Corbyn made clear in his speech in Salford today that he is seeking to “first… stop no deal” and “then” a general election. It is not yet clear whether the Labour leadership will only whip in favour of an early election if legislation against no deal has passed first.

Speculation that Boris Johnson will want to call an early election continues to rise. The Sun has reported that he plans to move a motion to that effect if legislation blocking no deal is passed this week.

Johnson would need two-thirds of MPs to vote for an election if he proposed it under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. But he may be able to circumvent the FTPA by passing a one-line bill that said: “Notwithstanding the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, the next election will be on [x date]”, for which he would only need a simple majority.

The Brexit rebel plans have now been revealed by Labour MP Hilary Benn. On Tuesday, MPs will use a motion to attempt to take control of the order paper on Wednesday. If the motion is passed, anti-no deal MPs will try to drive through a Private Member’s Bill.

This bill would force the government to extend Article 50 until January 31st unless Commons support for no deal is secured or a Brexit deal is passed before October 19th.

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