Theresa May’s second heavy defeat on her Brexit deal has stoked speculation about the prospect of a general election in 2019.
According to an internal European Commission memo, seen by BuzzFeed News, the EU believes that Brexit could be delayed for “political reasons” – specifically if the UK asked for time to organise a general election or a referendum.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately called for an election following last night’s meaningful vote.
“The prime minister has run down the clock and the clock has been run out on her,” he told MPs in the Commons. “It’s time that we have a general election and the people can choose who their government should be.”
But despite the Labour chief’s demand, “the party is understood to not have immediate plans to call for a vote of no confidence that could precipitate what would be the third general election in four years”, says The Guardian.
Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (2011), brought in under the coalition government, the only ways to call an early election is if a motion is agreed by two-thirds or more of MPs, or if a no-confidence vote is passed and no alternative government can be cobbled together within 14 days.
May would “probably survive another no-confidence vote”, with “even Tory rebels falling in line to stop Labour securing a general election”, says The Sun.
Nevertheless, bookmakers remain fairly confident that an election will be held this year, with some offering odds of up to 5/4 on it taking place.
Even Conservative MPs have said that May’s repeated failure to get her Brexit deal through Parliament could lead to such an outcome.
Last night pro-Brexit Tory David Davies, the MP for Monmouth, told the BBC: “A general election is a lot more likely now than it was yesterday.
“I don’t say it’s going to happen, but clearly if a government can’t get through on the one issue which we were really elected to deal with at the last election it puts us all in a very difficult situation.”
Charles Walker, vice-chair of the Tories’ powerful 1922 Committee, also predicted that a defeat on the deal would lead to a snap election.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “If it doesn’t go through, as sure as night follows day, there will be a general election within a matter of days or weeks. It is not sustainable, the current situation in Parliament.”