Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said his “preference” would be for the Brexit bill to return to the House of Commons for full scrutiny – but said he is “always ready” for a snap election.
Speaking after his intervention on the Queen’s Speech, the Hayes and Harlington MP said he had “ordered my winter coat” and that he would expect Labour MPs to rally behind the front bench if the decision was taken to go to the polls.
But his first priority was to secure a programme motion that everyone can agree – in other words, a timetable that could allow the Brexit legislation known as the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be properly debated and considered.
However he suggested that was unlikely, saying the two sides were having “a dialogue – you can’t even call it a negotiation”.
“We’ve told them, if you’re sensible about this and allow a proper programme motion… you’ll find that maybe the house will come together around a series of amendments.
“My preference is to get an agreement in which we can consider the bill properly, but I’m always up for an election whenever it comes – and as I say, I’ve got my winter coat ready.”
Asked if he was concerned the government may seek an election only to shift the dates backwards, resulting in a no-deal Brexit, McDonnell said: “I work on the basis that you can’t trust Boris Johnson further than you would like to throw him.”
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