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Boris Johnson ponders early election as rebel Tory MPs urged to 'hold the line' over Brexit

Boris Johnson ponders early election as rebel Tory MPs urged to 'hold the line' over Brexit
2 min read

Boris Johnson could call a snap general election if MPs defeat the Government over Brexit, it has emerged.

The Prime Minister has arranged an emergency Cabinet meeting for Monday afternoon to sign off on the plan.

Mr Johnson is then expected to announce it to Tory MPs at a Downing Street garden party immediately afterwards.

The dramatic move comes ahead of a crunch Commons vote on Tuesday in which opposition MPs and rebel Conservatives will try to seize control of the parliamentary agenda in order to pass a law blocking a no-deal Brexit.

Tory whips have already warned that any of their MPs who vote against the Government will be suspended and banned from standing again as Conservative candidates.

It is understood that if the Government is defeated, the PM will table a motion calling for a general election before 31 October.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, two-thirds of MPs will need to vote for it in order for the election to be given the green light.

A Downing Street source confirmed that the Government is viewing Tuesday's vote as a "confidence matter", adding further fuel to the election speculation.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour would vote for an election in any circumstance, despite Tony Blair warning him that it was an "elephant trap" being laid by the Conservatives.

Around 20 Tory MPs - including former Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart - are expected to vote against the Government on Tuesday.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Mr Stewart called on his colleagues to "hold the line" despite the whips' threats.

He said: "Nobody should be blackmailed with the threat of being thrown out of the Conservative Party. We are proud Conservatives with a long record of service to our party.

"Our demand for an orderly exit is entirely in line with the manifesto on which we stood."

Meanwhile, Mr Hammond has written to the Prime Minister demanding he set out what steps he has taken to reach a Brexit deal with Brussels.

The move comes after Mr Johnson cancelled a planned meeting with the Tory rebels.

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