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Thu, 16 July 2020

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Richard Burgon says Labour will back general election before Christmas if EU grants Brexit delay

Richard Burgon says Labour will back general election before Christmas if EU grants Brexit delay
2 min read

Richard Burgon has said Labour will back a general election as soon as the European Union approves an extension to the Brexit deadline.

The Shadow Justice Secretary - a key ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - said he would like to see a snap poll before Christmas, after no-deal Brexit has been taken off the table.

The comments came after the House of Commons voted down the Government’s timetable for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, prompting Boris Johnson to “pause” the Brexit process.

EU Council president Donald Tusk said he will ask European leaders to grant a delay to avoid the UK crashing out of the bloc on Halloween - a move Number 10 has said will prompt a fresh push for election.

Speaking to BBC’s Today programme, Mr Burgon said: “Labour’s position is that as soon as no deal is off the table, we want a general election.”

And he told Sky News: “I’d like to see an election before Christmas. 

"I want to get Boris Johnson and his Thatcherite mates out of Downing Street as soon as possible.

“As soon as the EU has agreed that extension so Boris Johnson can’t push us through a no-deal without a mandate to do so, then we want a general election.”


Labour's top team remains divided over whether to push for a general election or a second referendum first.

Figures including Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer and deputy leader Tom Watson want the party to prioritise a second referendum.

But fellow frontbenchers Diane Abbott, Dan Carden and Ian Lavery are against such a move.

Echoing that view, Mr Burgon said holding a referendum before a general election would be “fantasy politics”.

“I think that’s fantasy politics because a public vote cannot occur under the current arithmetic of parliament,” he told the BBC.

And he warned: “Boris Johnson is not going to preside for nine months over preparations for and conduct of a public vote.”

Speaking after the Government's defeat in the Commons on Tuesday, a Number 10 source said: "On Saturday Parliament asked for a delay until January and today Parliament blew its last chance.

"If Parliament's delay is agreed by Brussels, then the only way the country can move on is with an election. This Parliament is broken."

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland also showed support for the move, telling the BBC: “However inhospitable and cold the weather might be that seems to me to be the way to break this impasse.”

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