Labour will back the government on today’s election vote, paving the way for a poll on 12 December.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn this morning told his shadow cabinet that he had received confirmation from the EU that Brexit had been delayed until 31 January, meaning “our condition of taking no deal off the table has now been met”.
“We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen,” he said.
And not everyone is backing the leadership on this. Labour MP Barry Sheerman described it as “sheer madness” and said there were frontbench resignations as a result.
Corbyn has also not yet confirmed the date that he would agree to, although the government’s bill stipulating a date of 12 December. The SNP and Liberal Democrats are also thought to back an early election, although they both favour one on 9 December.
But last night No 10 sources made it clear that it would not agree to that demand, as it would not allow sufficient time for the bill to pass. The 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
Recent polling has put the Conservatives between 10 and 15 per cent ahead of Labour, depending on the agency. Lib Dems consistently come a close third.
Matthew Oxenford, UK Analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, warned that Labour’s reluctance to go to the polls thus far could hamper a campaign. Today marks the government’s fourth attempt at an election.
“Once the election takes place the particulars of the parliamentary procedures that began the process are mostly likely to be forgotten, but if Labour starts the campaign looking like they were forced into it, it could be a potent example other parties will use to show they are in too much disarray to govern,” he said.
He noted Labour and the Lib Dems would benefit from an earlier election “as university terms generally end on the 13th, and the earlier the election is held, the easier it will be to organise students at their term-time addresses”.
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