The Prime Minister’s last attempt to secure an election this side of Christmas could still struggle
Last night the government tabled a motion for an election that includes the date – 12 December – in a bid to convince critics who say he can’t be trusted not to push back the date and force a no-deal Brexit in the new year.
A six-hour debate will take place today, with a view to passing all stages in the Commons and progressing it into the Lords for debate tomorrow.
Although the bill is similar to one put forward by the Liberal Democrats and the SNP there is no guarantee those parties will back it, as they sought an earlier date (9 December), to remove the possibility Johnson could force his Brexit bill through in the intervening time.
Labour has yet to make an explicit decision with leader Jeremy Corbyn saying he would consider the bill. However several backbenchers including Ben Bradshaw, Mary Creagh and Luke Pollard indicating they would not support it.
Tory rebels including Philip Hammond have also indicated that they will not back the government, with the former chancellor suggesting one byproduct would be to eject pro-Remain MPs from the party.
Meanwhile the bill faces a number of amendments, which could slow its passage or even kill it off entirely.
One of those, tabled by Labour MP Stephen Doughty, calls for voters aged 16 and 17 to be included.
While many, including the Lib Dems and SNP, back the idea in principle, this is seen as a wrecking amendment because there would not be sufficient time to register new voters.
Yesterday one Lib Dem source said they would not back such an amendment, preferring instead to push for wider enfranchisement after an election.
Other possible amendments include broadening the vote out to include EU citizens, while Labour is understood to be considering pushing for a second referendum as a device to kill the bill.
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