On Wednesday, when MPs debated Boris Johnson’s motion calling for an early election, Jeremy Corbyn said that Labour would be willing to vote for an election after the Hilary Benn bill intended to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October becomes law (which is due to happen by Monday). Corbyn said:
I repeat what I said last night. 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.
But, as we reported yesterday (eg see here and here), Corbyn has been coming under intense pressure from Labour MPs to delay the date of a possible early general election and this morning Emily Thornberry confirmed on the Today programme that, if Johnson goes ahead as planned with a second vote on an early election on Monday night, after the Benn bill has royal assent, Labour will still refuse to support the move. Asked if there would be a “no” from Labour on Monday, she replied: “Yes.” She explained:
The problem that we have is that the motion that the government has put before, and it looks like will put again, is a motion under the Fixed-term Parliament Act under clauses 2 (7) and 3 of the Fixed-term Parliament Act, if we vote to have a general election, then no matter what it is that Boris Johnson promises, it is up to him to advise the Queen when the general election should be. And given that he has shown himself to be a manifest liar, and someone who has said that he will die in a ditch rather than stop no deal, and indeed his adviser, [Dominic] Cummings, has been swearing and shouting at MPs saying they are leaving on 31 [October] no matter what, our first priority has to be that we must stop no deal and we must make sure that that is going to happen.
In Labour there are different views on exactly when an early election should take place, and there is as yet no settled view. Yesterday John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, hinted that his preference was to “go long”. Asked if she thought Labour should wait until after the EU summit in mid October, and until after an article 50 extension has been agreed, Thornberry replied:
I’m not going to go into details. But my instinct on this is the same as John’s.
Labour’s position is crucial because, under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, a vote for an early election only gets implemented if two thirds of MPs in the House of Commons (434) vote for it. Following the rebellion on Tuesday, which led to 21 Tories losing the whip, Johnson now only has 289 seats in the Commons.
We should be getting reaction from Boris Johnson later this morning.
Here is the agenda for the day.
Around 9am: Boris Johnson visits a farm in Scotland where he will announce extra funding for Scottish farmers.
10am: Jeremy Corbyn is due to hold a conference call with other opposition party leaders to discuss tactics on avoiding a no-deal Brexit and on the timing of a general election.
10am: Judges at the high court may announce their decision in the legal challenge against the government’s decision to prorogue parliament.
10am: Peers resume their debate on the Benn bill, intended to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. It is due to finish all its stages in the Lords by 5pm.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to publish a summary when I wrap up.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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