Theresa May has been urged by former Tory leader Lord Hague to call an early general election to avoid further parliamentary stand-offs over Brexit.
As the Prime Minister braced herself for potential defeat in the House of Lords, with many peers demanding Parliament gets a “meaningful” vote on the final Brexit deal, Lord Hague said she could reduce the risk of more close votes if she won an election.
The peer said there was “no doubt” May would have a better chance of making Brexit a success with a “decisive” majority in the Commons, warning her that different factions in Parliament will inevitably find parts of the exit deal “difficult to stomach”.
With Labour’s prospects under Jeremy Corbyn apparently in dire straits according to opinion polls, Lord Hague urged the PM to repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act and call a snap election.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the peer said that while the Act was necessary under the coalition to satisfy the Liberal Democrats, the situation was now “very different” and “it is time to question whether a fixed parliamentary term is in the interests of the country as we withdraw from the European Union”.
Lord Hague, the most senior Tory figure to publicly call for an early election, went on: “We have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet facing the most complex challenges of modern times: Brexit negotiations, the Trump administration, the threat from Scottish nationalists, and many other issues.
“There is no doubt that they would be in a stronger position to take the country through these challenges successfully if they had a large and decisive majority in the Commons and a new full term ahead of them.”
Ahead of the expected clash between peers and the Government over Parliament’s role in approving the final Brexit deal, Lord Hague went on: “Any deal is bound to be full of compromises which one group or another in Parliament finds difficult to stomach.
“As British law needs to be amended countless times to take account of leaving the EU treaties, the Government could face many close votes, concessions or defeats as it tries to implement Brexit.
“That prospect will embolden the EU negotiators, and makes an agreement that is good for the UK harder to achieve.
“It could also lead to a situation where the Prime Minister faces a stand-off with Parliament over a deal that will have taken two years to negotiate and is nearly impossible to change.”
It came after May warned peers they could “incentivise” the EU to offer Britain a bad Brexit deal if they pass a further amendment to the Article 50 Bill.
The Lords is expected to vote at around 5pm on Tuesday on an amendment calling for Westminster to be given a “meaningful” vote on the withdrawal agreement secured by the PM during negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaties.
May has promised Parliament a vote, but only on a “take it or leave it” basis, which would see the UK crash out of the EU without a deal if MPs reject the agreement she obtains.
She believes she must maintain this position in order to convince EU negotiators and other member states she is ready to walk away from the table if she does not like what is on offer.
Many peers are insisting that they should be given the option of telling ministers to go back to the EU and renegotiating a better deal.
Opposition members have argued May’s position that “no deal is better than a bad deal” risks a sudden “cliff-edge” move onto WTO tariffs which would harm the UK economy.
A Labour Lords source told the Press Association the party was confident its amendment on a meaningful vote would deliver “another likely handsome defeat for the Government, given the developing cross-party campaign on this issue”.