Katy Balls Katy Balls

What the opposition pact means for Boris Johnson’s path to an early election

Although Downing Street heralded Thursday the ‘first day of the election campaign’, Boris Johnson is yet to be able to call an election. Today Labour and other UK opposition parties have agreed not to back the Prime Minister’s call for general election before the October EU summit. Explaining the decision, the SNP’s Ian Blackford said they wanted to make sure the UK did not crash out in a no-deal Brexit.

Ahead of the meeting, Corbyn had been under pressure from figures including Keir Starmer to hold off on an early election until after an extension has been requested on 19 October. Johnson had hoped to have an election October 15 – before the crucial EU summit meeting and thereby run a campaign about who should go to that meeting and represent the UK. In response to the news, a No. 10 spokesman said:

‘Jeremy Corbyn has voted to wreck the negotiations, to delay Brexit until 2020 at least, to hand over billions if Brussels demands it, and to stop the public having a vote until after Brexit is delayed again.

Corbyn does not trust the people. He wants to cancel the referendum result and stop the people having a say.

The Prime Minister trusts the people and thinks they should decide who goes to Brussels on 17 October to negotiate – and he will get us out on 31 October with or without a deal.’

So, what options are left for Johnson? There had been talk within government of proposing a one-line bill that would say something along the lines of “not withstanding the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, there will be an election on 15 October”. That would require a simple majority – but the shift in position of all the opposition parties (including the SNP) means even that could now be off the table.

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