Labour would not vote for a snap general election if it allowed Boris Johnson to force a no-deal Brexit, a shadow minister has said.
Jenny Chapman, the shadow Brexit minister, told BBC Radio 4′s World at One programme on Monday that Labour’s “mission here is to prevent no-deal”.
“If that means a general election can’t happen at that particular point then stopping no-deal must come first,” she said.
Johnson has called a surprise meeting of his cabinet for Monday afternoon, triggering increased speculation he could be prepared to go to the country.
The prime minister is also hosting all Tory MPs in Downing Street later this evening.
Johnson has promised to deliver Brexit by October 31. One way to ensure this would be to hold an election campaign over that date, leaving MPs powerless to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Pressed if Labour would vote against an election in those circumstances, Chapman said: “Theoretically. But more likely having a general election becomes one of the few ways that we are able to prevent no deal.”
Under the terms of the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act, Johnson can not simply call an election. He would have to persuade two-thirds of MPs to vote for it, or call a vote of no confidence vote in his own government.
Tony Blair, the former Labour PM, this morning warned Jeremy Corbyn to avoid the “elephant trap” of a snap general election that could be used to ram through no-deal.
But Corbyn appeared to suggest he would back an election in all circumstances. “Of course, we are the opposition party, we want a general election” he told Sky News.
MPs are due to vote on Tuesday on taking control of the parliamentary agenda to block Johnson for taking the UK out of the EU with no-deal.
Downing Street has threatened Tory MPs with losing the whip and being banned from standing for the party if they vote against the government.
A No.10 source said the meeting of the cabinet was to discuss “the government’s response to MPs seeking to take control of legislative agenda away from the government and handing it to the opposition and Jeremy Corbyn without the consent of the people”.
David Gauke, the former justice secretary and rebel ringleader, accused the prime minister of deliberately trying to lose votes to block a deal-less departure this week.
“I don’t think there seems to be a huge effort to persuade people to support the government this week. I think they seem to be quite prepared for there to be a rebellion, then to purge those who support the rebellion from the party,” he said.
I think the strategy, to be honest, is to lose this week and then seek a general election having removed those of us who are not against Brexit, not against leaving the European Union, but believe we should do so with a deal.”