Tories threaten to stop Theresa May triggering election as poll puts Jeremy Corbyn in reach of Number 10

Posted On: 
31st March 2019

Theresa May has been warned by her own MPs against plunging the country into a fresh general election as a new poll put Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party five points clear of the Tories.

The Deltapoll study puts the Prime Minister five points below the Labour leader.

The latest Deltapoll study for the Mail on Sunday shows that a seven-point Conservative lead has evaporated over the past month amid ongoing political turmoil over Brexit.

Labour currently stands at 41 percent, five points ahead of the Tories on 36.

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The result would hand Labour 307 seats at an election - just 19 short of a majority - while the Conservatives would plummet to 264 MPs.

The poll came as Conservative MPs threatened to try and block an election - and amid reports of deep division in Number 10 about whether or not to head to the polls in the wake of a third defeat for Mrs May's Brexit deal.

In comments seen as an election hint, the Prime Minister responded to Friday's defeat by saying she was "reaching the limits of this process in this House".

But Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan told The Observer: "If we have a general election before Brexit is resolved, it will only make things worse."

Other Tory MPs signalled that they would actively vote to stop the Prime Minister triggering an election, something that requires the support of two-thirds of the House of Commons under the Fixed-Terms Parliament Act.

Pro-EU backbencher Antoinette Sandbach said: "The answer is not a general election, and I would vote against that. We need to find a way forward in Parliament."

Prominent Brexiteer Mark Francois, deputy chairman of the European Research Group, meanwhile told the paper there was "not a chance" MPs would support Mrs May taking the party into an election.

"Of course they wouldn’t – not after last time. And remember, she needs a super majority to do it," he said.

One Brexiteer cabinet minister told The Sunday Times that a general election would be "an act of ultimate self-harm" as the paper reported that key Downing Street aides were at odds over whether to accept a softer form of Brexit or call a snap poll.

Theresa May's communications chief Robbie Gibb and her political secretary Stephen Parkinson are said to be pushing for an election to break the Brexit deadlock.

But the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, and deputy, David Lidington, are said to prefer a cross-party deal to accept a customs union - a move that would enrage Brexiteers in the Cabinet.