Labour is expected to abstain on tonight’s vote – the third time the government will have sought an election since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly said he will seek an election once a no deal Brexit is “off the table”. However it is thought Labour MPs are concerned about current polling, which sees the party trailing by between 10 and 15 percentage points in the polls.
By abstaining, Labour will ensure that the Prime Minister’s gambit to go to the polls fails, as the Fixed Term Parliaments Act requires a two-thirds majority.
But it is likely that a single line bill fixing an election in December, along the lines planned by the Liberal Democrats and SNP, will pass tomorrow even without Labour support.
One Lib Dem source told City AM there had been conversations between the two parties over the weekend, as Jo Swinson’s team sought support for its new election bill, which critically would include a date.
The Lib Dem-SNP bill sets the date for 9 December, but the government is expected to bring forward an almost identical bill, which may differ only by a day or two.
However it is not thought Labour will back the bill, and indeed could seek to kill it off, with various plots afoot for amendments including opening up the election to 16 and 17 year olds, or EU citizens. Another option would be to attach a commitment to a second referendum, which would ensure Conservatives did not back the bill.
But Labour appears to be in chaos. The Sun reported today that shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Labour MPs who opposed an election can “go f*** themselves”.
However Abbott recalls the conversation slightly differently.
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