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Boris Johnson expected to ask MPs once again to vote for early general election

The Prime Minister wants to go to the public to break the Brexit deadlock.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Yui Mok/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Yui Mok/PA)

By Sam Blewett, Gavin Cordon, and Harriet Line, PA Political Staff

Boris Johnson is expected to call on MPs once again to support his quest for a pre-Christmas election in order to break the Brexit deadlock.

The Prime Minister has put his deal on hold in an anticipated bid to convince the Commons to vote on Tuesday for a December 12 election in his fourth time of asking.

But he may again be defeated with the date proving controversial for the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, who have signalled support for an election being held three days earlier.

The PM failed on Monday to get the two-thirds majority needed to secure an election under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), but was planning on a fresh attempt a day later.

The anticipated short Bill setting aside the FTPA would instead require the support of a simple majority of MPs and is expected to be hurried through all Commons stages in a single day.

One reason the Lib Dems and the SNP favoured going to the public on December 9 is because they believe it would prevent the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) being passed.

But Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg attempted to win them over by confirming that the Bill to implement the PM’s new deal would not be brought back before MPs.

The Government fell 135 votes short of the 434 required to get an election under the FTPA on Monday.

EU leaders had earlier confirmed they would extend the UK’s withdrawal date to January 31, in line with the request the PM was forced to make under the terms of the so-called Benn Act.

With no overall Commons majority, Mr Johnson needs the votes of some opposition MPs to get an early general election even under the new measure.

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Jeremy Corbyn said a no-deal Brexit must be taken off the table (House of Commons/PA)

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour – who abstained on the FTPA motion – would want to scrutinise whatever the Government put forward.

Fears remain that a no-deal could be forced through and there are concerns a December election could put off voters, particularly students no longer in their university constituencies.

With Labour MPs fiercely opposed to an election, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald indicated they were unlikely to change their position to back the Government.

“I think it’s very unwise to be having a general election in the run-up to Christmas,” he told Sky News.

While the Lib Dems did not rule out backing the Government, party leader Jo Swinson indicated that they would not accept the proposed December 12 election day.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said they would need a “cast-iron guarantee” that the PM would not try to bring back his deal to Parliament.

Commons Speaker John Bercow said opposition MPs would have the ability to table amendments to the Bill on Tuesday.

Government sources had suggested the proposed Lib Dem-SNP timetable – which would mean Parliament would have to be dissolved at one minute past midnight on Friday morning, was too tight to deliver.

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(PA Graphics)

Mr Rees-Mogg told the Commons that ministers “will not bring back” the WAB, which was put on hold last week after Mr Johnson failed in his attempt to fast-track it through the Commons in just three days.

But there was some disquiet among Tory backbenchers.

David Lidington, who was de facto deputy to Theresa May when she was PM, said some are concerned over Mr Johnson’s refusal to attempt to get his deal through under a revised timetable.

Former Cabinet minister Damian Green agreed that it would be the “sensible course of action”.

PA

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