Wednesday 13 November 2019

UK set for election as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says 'no deal is off the table' and announces launch of election campaign

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (Danny Lawson/PA)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (Danny Lawson/PA)

Guy Faulconbridge

British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told his top team of policy advisers on Tuesday the party's condition for supporting a new election had been met and "we will now launch the most ambitious and radical" election campaign.

He said that Labour is now backing a general election after having "confirmation" from the EU that no-deal is "off the table".

"No Deal is now off the table so tonight Labour will back a General Election.

"We're launching the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen. This is a once in a generation chance to build a country for the many, not the few. It's time."

Appearing energised after meeting with his shadow cabinet, the Labour leader told reporters: "We always said we wanted an election, we do want an election, but we wanted no-deal to be taken off the table.

"We've now had confirmation from all 28 EU member states that no-deal is off the table so we are going to go out there with the biggest campaign this party has ever mounted, totally united, totally determined."

But Mr Corbyn did not rule out backing any potential amendments to the election bill, such as one being proposed that would give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote.

"There will be a parliamentary process this afternoon. We are going out there to fight an election campaign and I can't wait to get out there on the streets," he said at Labour's London HQ.

"We are going out there to win."

The Government is prepared to look at amendments to change the date of its proposed general election to one which is "logistically possible", Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman suggested a December 9 poll - on a Monday - would not be logistically possible, but that other proposed dates including December 10 and 11 would be considered by the Government.

Labour MP Barry Sheerman claims Jeremy Corbyn was persuaded to back an election by two of his closest aides, Seumas Milne and Karie Murphy.

Mr Sheerman tweeted: "A clear majority of our Shadow cabinet were against a December election yesterday but Jeremy Corbyn has been persuaded to override them after interventions from (Seumas) Milne & Karie Murphy!"

On potential amendments to the Bill being tabled which could increase the electorate, the PM's spokesman said: "The election law on the franchise should not be changed days before the calling of a general election.

"There are long-standing conventions that election laws should only be changed after appropriate consultation.

"The Electoral Commission warns against changing electoral laws less than six months before an election."

Labour chairman Ian Lavery admitted the path to a general election had "been difficult", adding "we got there in the end".

He added: "A message for all our fantastic footsoldiers, members & Supporters: BRING IT ON."

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Bill for an early general election would mean Parliament would dissolve on November 6.

He told MPs: "This Bill will need royal assent by November 5 for the House to dissolve just after midnight on November 6.

"That general election timetable allows for the Northern Ireland Budget Bill to pass before dissolution to ensure the Northern Ireland Civil Service can access the funding it needs to deliver public services and proper government."

Mr Rees-Mogg said: "So it is just a December General Election, nothing more and nothing less... But the debate today is not about those great issues, it is simply about setting December 12 as the date for a General Election."

Responding, shadow leader of the House of Commons Valerie Vaz said: "This House is surprised and alarmed at the state of the Government and for moving a motion for a General Election in this way."

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