Labour and the SNP have agreed to keep Boris Johnson waiting for a general election until after a delay to Brexit has been secured, seriously undermining the Prime Minister’s political strategy.
Further talks between opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP’s Ian Blackford took place yesterday, with the two biggest opposition parties aligning their tactics following speculation of a split over when an election should take place.
Mr Corbyn and his closest advisers have pushed for a snap election to be granted as soon as legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit receives Royal Assent, likely to be on Monday. That would allow voting to take place on Mr Johnson’s preferred date of 15 October, before a crucial EU summit two days later.
However, the majority of Labour MPs fear that allowing an election to take place before 19 October – the date when the legislation would require Mr Johnson to ask the EU for a Brexit delay if there is no negotiated deal – risks a no-deal scenario. Many want a vote to be pushed back until November.
The SNP and Labour could now call a confidence vote in Mr Johnson’s government on Monday rather than support a second attempt by the government to get approval for an election.
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, had raised speculation about a split between the two opposition parties when she tweeted on Wednesday: “It’s starting to feel like Labour doesn’t want an election at all ... and leaving this PM in place knowing he’ll try every trick in the book to get what he wants would be irresponsible.”
However, speaking yesterday, the SNP’s Europe spokesman at Westminster, Stephen Gethins, said: “We need to make sure that no-deal really is off the table. We can’t trust Boris Johnson one bit.”
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell also opened the door to a further election delay, saying the party had yet to decide whether to “go short or go long”.