Snap Election Could Be Before December 12, Corbyn Suggests

Labour leader calls Boris Johnson "a very strange prime minister" and claims pre-Christmas poll date "really odd".

A snap general election could happen before the December 12 date named by Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn has suggested.

In an interview with ITV’s This Morning, the Labour leader said his party will on Monday give its crucial backing to a quick-fire poll if the prime minister rules out a no-deal Brexit.

It comes after the PM demanded a snap election, claiming opposition MPs planned to “wreck” legislation for his new Brexit deal, despite the withdrawal agreement bill securing a Commons majority at second reading this week.

Corbyn told presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan: “The December 12 date is really odd for many reasons. It’s so near Christmas, it’s after universities have ended their terms, etc.

“There’s lots of, lots of things very odd about that date.”

Asked if he would prefer an election next year, Corbyn also appeared to suggest the poll could be sooner.

He said: “Well, maybe before that, before December 12.

“I mean I don’t know what the date is going to end up being because guess there’s going to be some discussions about that but yeah I think what you’re saying is absolutely right.

“I want an election, yes, to deal with Brexit but also all the other issues about how we invest in all parts of this country.”

He went on to say Johnson had “pulled the parliamentary accountability” of the withdrawal agreement bill with his election call.

“This is a very strange prime minister running parliament in a very strange way,” he said.

Johnson told reporters on Friday that he is waiting for a decision from the EU as he reiterated his call for Labour to back his election demand.

He added: “And as far as I can see, at the moment, the Labour Party is split from top to bottom, and they can’t work out whether or not they’re in favour of an election, which is the thing they’re supposed to be campaigning for for the last three-and-a-half years.”


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Pressing ahead for a snap poll is likely to provoke anger from Labour backbenchers who fear that the PM is engineering a “trap” which could open a legal door to a no-deal crash-out during the campaign period.

As it stands the legal default for Britain’s break from the bloc remains October 31, but it is likely Brussels will back a flexible extension to January 31.

Corbyn suggested, however, that Johnson could agree to rule out a crash-out exit from the EU and that would mean Labour swings behind the PM’s motion, due to be debated on Monday, to dissolve parliament and call a snap election.

“I hope the EU grants an extension,” Corbyn said.

He added: “Providing the prime minister comes to parliament on Monday and makes it absolutely clear he is going to make sure that there is no crash-out, because his deal includes the possibility of a no-deal exit.”

When told Johnson may refuse, Corbyn said: “He is going to have to do that because that’s how parliament works. We have to hold him to account. I think a no-deal exit is very dangerous. If he comes to parliament and says that then OK.”

Corbyn appeared to suggest he thinks Johnson will rule out no deal as early as Friday.

Asked how long people will have to wait, Corbyn said: “I think probably a couple of days. Maybe even today.”

Backbenchers fear the government has the power to move the date of the election and that backing a poll risks no-deal.

Johnson’s official spokesman told reporters on Friday that those concerns were unfounded.

He said the date of the election would be “locked” once parliament was dissolved and it would be illegal for the government to move it.

“If [parliament is] dissolved on November 6 for an election on December 12, [the PM] couldn’t then change the date to any point after January 31.

“If any attempt was made to change the date whilst parliament was sitting then parliament has already shown it would take control of the order paper.”

Corbyn believes that Johnson’s new deal with Brussels, agreed last week, leaves open the door to a no-deal as part of transition terms.

He added: “He has got to understand that the protection of jobs and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and peace process in Northern Ireland are very, very important.

“His proposals don’t do any of that.”

Madeley also suggested to Corbyn that Labour was frightened of an election as Corbyn’s poll rating were dire.

Corbyn denied that was the case, and said: “I’m very happy to go out and campaign very heavily. I do it all the time anyway. I love campaigning, I love being out talking to people.”


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