September 04, 2019
Jeremy Corbyn has been urged by senior shadow ministers and his MPs to avoid calling a snap general election until after a no-deal Brexit has been delayed.
Corbyn Urged To Delay Snap Election Until November In Bid To Avoid No-Deal Brexit
The Labour leader refused on Wednesday night to grant Boris Johnson’s wish to trigger an early poll, but its leader now has to weigh up exactly when he wants polling day to take place.
At a hastily convened meeting, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) agreed unanimously to call on Corbyn to wait until mid-October to plan for a November election.
Crucially, the backbench MPs’ plea was echoed by both frontbenchers Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis.
Labour’s position remains unresolved, despite a spokesman for Corbyn suggesting that the party could back a snap poll as early as next Monday, when the Benn EU extension bill is expected to receive Royal Assent.
Many Labour MPs fear that Johnson will exploit an election period to let the UK drop out of the EU without agreement or change the date of any polling day despite the legal lock of the bill.
Thornberry told SkyNews: “I personally think that we need to have a general election when we’re going to win it. I’ll wait a couple of weeks. If we can give them a little bit of extra rope… just let them be in power for a few more weeks then people can really see how bad they are.”She added the party was “making decisions on an hourly basis,” but stressed that Corbyn would make the final decision.
“The thing about Jeremy as leader is he listens to different views, he thinks about it, then he comes to a conclusion. It’s good to kick these things around,” she said.
However, shadow cabinet minister John Healey suggested on the BBC that as soon as the Benn bill was passed in all its stages the party would push for an election.
Corbyn’s spokesman also suggested the Benn bill only needed to become law for Labour to act.
“It needs to go through and have Royal Assent – and once we’re confident they can’t crash out and no-deal is taken off the table for 31 October, we will support a general election,” he said.
“We are committed to the earliest possible election. We want to be sure of stopping a no-deal crash-out on Oct 31. We want to be sure of the government being unable to change the date or allow a crash-out during an election campaign. We are attempting to find the mechanisms to do all three things.”
But speaking in the Commons just an hour later, Keir Starmer delighted backbenchers when he suggested that Labour would not agree to a snap election until the ‘implementation’, not just Royal Assent, of the Benn legislation.
“We will keep the focus on the task in hand, which is to ensure that we do not leave the EU without a deal, and that requires the passing and implementation of this act,” he said in the Commons.Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell backed up Starmer. “We want to get the legislation secure, Royal Assent, but we’re not going to be tricked or conned by Johnson so we are looking at every way in which having secured the legislation he can’t wriggle out of abiding by the law and implementing it,” he said.
“So Keir along with the other opposition parties, they are looking at every opportunity that we can to secure that.
“And at the moment there’s nothing that Johnson has done in recent weeks that gives us the confidence that he’s going to abide by the law.”
Benn himself said: “We must in my opinion secure that extension to Article 50 otherwise there is a risk that the election would result in us leaving without a deal.”
Shadow Treasury minister Lewis added: “The Tories are on the ropes. It feels at this moment in time that there is still wriggle room and for Boris Johnson, through a multitude of ways, to still ensure that no-deal happens, even if that legislation passed. And we’re hearing from No.10 that they may not respect that piece of legislation.
“Well the sensible thing to do will be to say: OK, we’ll have a general election, but we’ll do it after we have got the extension signed and sealed at the European Council, in legislation, so that we don’t go out on the 31st – and then we can have our election. And in the meantime, let the Tories stew in their own juices, and implode.”
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon attacked Labour’s caution, tweeting: “It’s starting to feel like Labour doesn’t want an election at all... and leaving this PM in place knowing he’ll try every trick in book to get what he wants would be irresponsible.
“Opposition must get bill through and then seek to force election BEFORE parliament prorogued.”Related... MPs Reject Boris Johnson's Plan For A Snap General Election Boris Johnson Is Set For Three Commons Defeats – But His Eyes Are On A Bigger Prize Brexiteer Peers Launch All-Night Bid To Scupper Anti-No-Deal Bill
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