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Old 09-03-2019, 05:06 AM
Stanislaus is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: London
Posts: 3,113
Originally Posted by dalej42 View Post
Sky News just reported that Boris Johnson will fall a snap general election for 14 October should Parliament block no-deal Brexit this week which seems likely.
Quite an important point here: Johnson cannot unilaterally call an election. He will need the consent of Parliament. This is a relatively new feature of UK politics: prior to the Fixed Term Parliament Act of 2011, Prime Ministers could call elections as they saw fit. Now, if a PM wants an election they have to ask Parliament to vote for one. This vote has to be passed by an absolute 2/3rds majority of the Commons - 434 in favour. The current government has 311 Tory MPs and 10 DUP MPs. So there will only be an election on that date if the other parties support it.

In general, this wouldn't matter! Opposition parties want to become governing parties, so tend to welcome elections. Moreover, they really don't want to be seen as running scared of an election, so even if they're behind in the polls they're unlikely to vote to keep the government in government. However, these are not normal times. Johnson's government are at great risk of being defeated by Parliament over the issue of No Deal. The anti-No Deal parties have prepared a Bill which would prevent No Deal by the 31st of October and they intend to bring it to the House this week. They likely have the votes, as there are perhaps as many as 20 Tory MPs who have committed to voting against their own party on this matter. Calling an election is a means not only of getting a new Parliament, but of cutting this one short.

As advertised, the election Johnson favours would take place by 14th Oct leaving new Parliament barely enough time to have a say on the deal with the EU that apparently the government will conclude by 17th October. BUT - no one trusts Boris. Still less does anyone trust Dominic Cummings, his chief of staff. The fear is that having secured agreement for an election, these chancers would use the PM's perogative powers to move the date to some point in November, thus practically guaranteeing No Deal. So: if you are an anti-No Deal MP, it is by no means obviously in your best interests to vote for an election. It is much more in your interest to keep Parliament in session while you pass your anti-No Deal bill.

In short, while there is doubtless an election in the near future there is a very good chance that Johnson won't get the one he's asking for.