Belfast Telegraph

General election set for December with Labour ready to back PM

Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

A general election is set to take place this December with Labour ready to back Boris Johnson's proposal in the Commons on Tuesday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told his shadow cabinet that the party's condition of taking a no-deal Brexit "off the table" has been met.

The decision comes after EU leaders agreed to a flexible Brexit extension until January 31.

Amendments reflecting Labour policy, such as votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, are being considered.

Boris Johnson's government is proposing to hold the election on December 12. The PM will attempt to convince the Commons to vote for an election at his fourth time of asking on Tuesday using a short Bill which sets aside the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, requiring only a simple majority of MPs.

Labour understood to back a change to the proposed date which, if such an amendment is selected by the Speaker, could be backed by the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

The SNP and Liberal Democrats have called for an election on December 9, however they could put forward a proposal for an election on December 11 - which the Government is likely to accept.

The Government is prepared to look at amendments to change the date of its proposed general election to one which is "logistically possible", Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman suggested a December 9 poll - on a Monday - would not be logistically possible, but that other proposed dates including December 10 and 11 would be considered by the Government.

Mr Corbyn told the shadow cabinet on Tuesday morning: "I have consistently said that we are ready for an election and our support is subject to a no-deal Brexit being off the table.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

"We have now heard from the EU that the extension of Article 50 to January 31 has been confirmed, so for the next three months, our condition of taking no-deal off the table has now been met.

"We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen."

The Labour leader did not rule out backing any amendments, telling reporters outside Labour's London HQ: "There will be a parliamentary process this afternoon."

"We are going out there to fight an election campaign and I can't wait to get out there on the streets.

"We are going out there to win."

Asked about the early general election Bill potentially being amended to allow votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, the PM's spokesman said it would be "administratively impossible" to deliver.

"The Government's position has not changed: we have no plans to lower the national voting age.

"Eighteen is widely recognised as the age people become an adult. Below the age of 18 you are treated as a minor in both the foster care system and the criminal justice system.

"Full citizenship rights including voting should be gained at adulthood."

He added: "I think it is also important for me to point out that votes at 16 are administratively impossible to deliver in the time available - there would be less than three weeks before the voter registration deadline to register 16 and 17-year-olds."

Additional reporting by PA.

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