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Timing of election poses dilemma for Labour

The party faces a choice whether to back Boris Johnson’s call for a polling day on October 15 or push for a later date after Brexit has been delayed.

The Prime Minister wants an election on October 15 (Rui Vieira/PA)
The Prime Minister wants an election on October 15 (Rui Vieira/PA)

By David Hughes, PA Political Editor

Labour MPs are split over Boris Johnson’s call for an early general election, with the part being urged not to back any polling day before the October 31 Brexit deadline.

The Prime Minister wants an election on October 15 but failed to get the necessary two-thirds of MPs to support it on Wednesday night.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Mr Johnson his party would back an election once legislation to block a no-deal exit on October 31 had been passed.

“Let this Bill pass and gain Royal Assent, and then we will back an election – so we do not crash out of the European Union with a no-deal exit,” he said.

But there are concerns throughout the party about the prospect of an election before an extension to the Brexit deadline is in place, even with the expected passage of the Bill requiring the Prime Minister to seek an extension beyond October 31.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “We’re looking now at taking legal advice on how secure that Bill is, but we’re also consulting the other opposition parties and our own party on the date of a general election

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(PA Graphics)

“We’re desperate for a general election.”

But he said the party could not trust Mr Johnson and was “consulting about whether it’s better to go long, therefore, rather than to go short”.

A series of Labour MPs warned against backing any election before October 31.

Susan Elan Jones said on Twitter: “I don’t trust #LiarJohnson and his extremist, privileged mates one inch.

“There should not be a General Election before 31st October – and Hell will freeze over before I vote for one. The Stop No Deal Bill MUST be implemented first.”

Catherine McKinnell said “Johnson is a Prime Minister we simply cannot trust” and Labour must avoid “fighting a stunt GE (general election)”.

Labour former cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw said Mr Johnson’s call for an October election was a “last desperate throw of dice”.

“Labour and the other opposition parties must not save him, but ensure an election is only called after October 31, when he will have failed completely,” he said.

Shadow Foreign Office minister Helen Goodman said Mr Johnson was “trying with his friends in the press to bully us into agreeing an election at a time which is not in the national interest”.

Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi said on Twitter that a general election “must be called AFTER the 31st October because this PM is a #Liar and the the UK will not be taken for fools”.

But fellow Labour MP Lucy Powell said: “There’s no doubt a general election needs to happen & soon.

“We have a government with no majority, barely a minority, & complete deadlock on the biggest issue of our time.

“While we need to ensure we don’t crash out by default, we shouldn’t delay because we can’t carry on like this.

“And I don’t fear Boris and his gang in an election.”

PA

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