Labour is on an ‘early election footing’, says party campaigns chief
The Labour party has been on an “early election footing” since before Christmas last year, a shadow minister has said.
Andrew Gwynne, the party’s head of campaigns and elections, said Labour has been building up a war chest in preparation for the Prime Minister going to the public before 2020.
The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act dictates that elections will take place every five years – unless two-thirds of the Commons vote in favour of an early poll.
When asked whether his party support moves in the Commons to hold an early election, Mr Gwynne told the BBC’s Sunday politics: “It would be very difficult not to, Andrew, because if the government wants to dissolve parliament, wants a general election, we don’t want the Tories to be in government, we want to be in government.
“We want to have an opportunity to put that case to the British people.”
Mr Gwynne also stressed that Labour has been preparing for the prospect of an early election since the end of 2016.
“The Labour party has been on an early election footing since before Christmas, and we are preparing ourselves for that eventuality in case that does come.
“And that means that we’ve got to get ourselves into a position whereby we can not only challenge the government but we can also offer a valuable alternative for the British people to choose from should that election arise.”
The Labour MP insisted that the party's coffers are well stocked to be able to fight a campaign.
“We have got substantial amounts of money in our fighting fund. That is true. Because not only has the Labour Party managed to eliminate its own financial deficit that it inherited from previous election campaigns, we have also managed to build up a substantial fund in the off chance that we have an election,” he said.
“We’ve also expanded massively operations at Labour HQ. We are taking on additional staff. And one of the jobs that myself and Ian Lavery, who I job share with are currently doing is to go around the Parliamentary Labour Party to make sure that Labour colleagues have the support and the resources that they need should they have to face the electorate in their constituencies.”
And he stressed that the media would have to be “patient” to see the details of Labour’s policy platform for a future election.
“If there’s going to be an election on the fourth of May then the writ has to be issued on the 27th March. So that’s not long to wait. Now, if that date passes we aren’t having an election on the 4th May and the normal timetable for policy development will continue.”
Downing Street has insisted that Mrs May has no intention to call a snap vote, but a string of senior Tories earlier this month called on the Prime Minister to think again to strengthen her Brexit negotiating hand.