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UK opposition parties 'set to offer' Boris Johnson route to snap election before Christmas

Johnson will attempt to call an election for a third time tomorrow.

Boris Johnson: demanded opposition MPs stopped holding UK 'hostage' over election refusal
Boris Johnson: demanded opposition MPs stopped holding UK 'hostage' over election refusal
Image: Frank Augstein/PA Images

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS and the Scottish National Party (SNP) are preparing to give Boris Johnson the snap December election he has been demanding.

The Prime Minister has used an article in the Sunday papers to accuse MPs of holding the country “hostage” by so far refusing to agree to a general election.

He is looking to pile pressure on parliamentarians to give him the two-thirds backing he needs on Monday to secure a trip to the polls.

But in a move that circumvents Labour’s indecision, the Lib Dems and SNP will reportedly offer the Conservative Party leader an even easier route to an election, requiring just a simple majority in the Commons.

If the European Union gives the UK a Brexit delay until 31 January, as requested in Johnson’s letter to Brussels last week, the two pro-Remain parties are prepared to give the PM the opportunity to have an election on new terms.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, confirmed he had co-signed a letter with Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson to European Council president Donald Tusk in which they sought an extension until at least 31 January so that the “risk of a devastating no-deal Brexit” could be removed.

He added: “If that meaningful extension is secured we will then work together to bring forward an election this year, but on Parliament’s terms, not on the Prime Minister’s.”

brexit Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson: co-signed letter to Brussels with Ian Blackford Source: Jonathan Brady/PA Images

Opposition split

According to The Observer, the parties’ MPs have drawn up a bill that would allow Johnson to secure a December election with a simple majority of MPs, by-passing the need for two-thirds support.

The draft law would grant an election on 9 December – three days before the PM’s proposed date and, crucially, when more students are still at university to cast their votes in Remain-supporting target swing seats.

The move indicates a split between opposition leaders on whether to go for a December campaign, with Labour putting off their decision on how to vote on Monday.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted to wait until EU ambassadors had finalised their decision, expected on Monday or Tuesday, over the length of an extension for Article 50.

Speaking on a campaign visit to Motherwell on Saturday, Corbyn said: “We will be very happy to fight an election once all vestiges of a no-deal exit from the EU have been taken off the table.”

brexit Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at an event at in Motherwell yesterday Source: PA Wire/PA Images

But the Government reiterated it had no intention of ruling out a cliff-edge divorce, with Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No-deal can’t be taken off the table.”

Ramped-up rhetoric

The PM ramped-up the rhetoric on Sunday as he looks to encourage MPs to grant him a trip to the polls when Parliament returns on Monday.

He wants an election on 12 December but requires two-thirds of MPs — 434 out of 650 — to back the move under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.

The PM said any Brexit delay granted by the EU would be “wasted” by the House of Commons and that, should Labour and other opposition parties reject his request for a trip to the polls, they would be guilty of holding the country “hostage”.

“Parliament cannot hold the country hostage any longer,” he said.

“Millions of businesses and people cannot plan their futures, this paralysis is causing real damage and the country must move on in 2020.”

Johnson said that the current Parliament had “run its course”, adding: “For more than three years Parliament has consistently told the country what it doesn’t want – but it has never been willing or able to say what it does want.

“This has left our country unable to move on and do what is needed to get Brexit done.

“My worry is this Parliament will just waste the next three months like it’s wasted the last three years.”

MPs have already dismissed an election request twice, calling for the option of a no-deal Brexit to be removed first.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters said the party saw its biggest online fundraising month on record in September as members get behind Johnson’s desire for a new Tory majority.

Tory chairman James Cleverly said: “If this Parliament won’t get Brexit done, it needs to let the people choose another one that will.”

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