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Fri, 10 July 2020

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Keir Starmer clashes with Jeremy Corbyn over when Labour should back snap election

Keir Starmer clashes with Jeremy Corbyn over when Labour should back snap election
3 min read

Splits at the top of the Labour party have emerged over when the party should back a snap election.


Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told a meeting of Labour MPs that the country should not go to the polls until after the 31 October Brexit deadline has passed.

But a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said the party could support an election before that date.

The row centres around the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which is backed by opposition parties and rebel Tories, which would force the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit entension if he cannot pass a deal by 19 October.

Sir Keir says Labour should wait until after that date before backing any moves to hold an election, meaning the country would not go to the polls until November.

He told MPs: "We will keep our focus on the task in hand, which is to ensure that we do not leave the EU without a deal and that requires the passing and implementation of this Act."

But Mr Corbyn's spokesman said Labour should just wait until the Bill has been given Royal Assent, which could be as soon as Friday, meaning the election could still happen on Boris Johnson's preferred date on 15 October.

"Once the Bill is passed and has Royal Assent, we will support a general election call in Parliament and we will continue to look at all mechanisms necessary to prevent any further attempts to force through a no-deal exit," the spokesman said.

One Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "If you have a general election before the 31st it becomes no deal versus Remain and you take the risk that Johnson becomes PM again and takes us out without a deal."

Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru has confirmed its MPs will not support an election until after the bill is implemented.

Liz Saville Roberts, the party's leader at Westminster, said: "A general election right now does not solve the major crisis facing the four nations of the UK – it only increases the risk of a no deal crash out of Europe.

"Plaid Cymru MPs will not even consider voting for a general election until an extension is fully implemented. That not only means the legislation is on the statute book, but the extension in place. Even then our priority is a fresh referendum – the only real solution to end this Brexit chaos."

However, SNP leader Nicila Sturgeon said she backed an election before 31 October and insisted MPs must vote for one before Parliament is prorogued next week.

She tweeted: "It’s starting to feel like Labour doesn’t want an election at all ... and leaving this PM in place knowing he’ll try every trick in book to get what he wants would be irresponsible. Opposition must get Bill through and then seek to force election BEFORE Parliament prorogued."

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