Tuesday 30 July 2019 4:06 am

DEBATE: Are we headed for a General Election before 31 October?

Mo Lovatt
Mo Lovatt is a lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries and co-chair of The Great Debate.

Are we headed for a General Election before 31 October?

Ben Kelly, a commentator for Reaction, says YES.

The optimal route to electoral success for Boris Johnson is to get Brexit over the line by 31 October and then call an election. But clearly, this is easier said than done, and apparently Boris and his team understand this.

His spokeswoman yesterday confirmed that the new Prime Minister does not want to meet EU leaders to discuss Brexit until they agree to abandon the backstop. The question of whether he is serious about no-deal has been answered unequivocally by the composition of his cabinet. If he were to abandon his “do or die” pledge, his government would crumble as the resignation letters rolled in.

So having adopted such an uncompromising position on the withdrawal agreement, we are now on course for no-deal. A significant coalition of MPs, aided by the House of Commons speaker, will go all out to stop this.

With a razor thin majority and a rebellion in his own party, the last roll of the dice would be to seek a mandate for a no-deal Brexit – and call a General Election before time runs out.

Mo Lovatt, a lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries and co-chair of The Great Debate, says NO.

When Prime Ministers start donning hard hats and talking about “The North”, it begins to feel like we’re in election territory again. But the odds are against it.

The motivation for an autumn election comes from those opposed to a no-deal Brexit, and while parliamentary arithmetic may be in their favour, time is not.

With parliament now in recess, they would have to wait until September to table a vote of no confidence in the government and allow 14 days for the House to adopt it. Assuming the government loses, parliament could be dissolved and only then could the six weeks of campaigning begin.

But the government would still be able to delay dissolution in order to wrap up “unfinished business” – just nudging the election into November. And, lest we forget, a no-deal Brexit on 31 October remains the legal default.

This makes pushing a no confidence vote too risky for the anti-Brexit MPs, so we’re more likely to see Anna Soubry, Sir Keir Starmer and the Gaukward Squad spending their summer holidays plotting other ways to stop no-deal than knotting up their hankies and enjoying an ice-cream on Margate beach.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.