Remainer rebels threaten to block an election until NEXT SUMMER to force Boris Johnson to get a Brexit deal
- Boris Johnson has been demanding an election to get a fresh Brexit mandate
- Rebel Oliver Letwin says election should not happen before the issue is settled
- Said he did not believe the Commons would back an election until a deal in place
Remainer rebels are threatening to block an election until next summer to force Boris Johnson to get a Brexit deal.
Sir Oliver Letwin set out the timeline as he insisted the Brexit issue must be resolved – if necessary through a referendum – before a poll is triggered.
The intervention by the former Cabinet minister will alarm Boris Johnson, whose efforts to go to the country for a new mandate have been blocked by MPs twice over the past fortnight.
The premier’s options are looking increasingly limited, after Parliament passed a law effectively banning No Deal at the end of October.
With the chances of an agreement with the EU looking remote, Mr Johnson is facing breaking his ‘do or die’ vow to secure Brexit by Halloween.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Sir Oliver said his ‘personal preference’ was for a deal.
Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured giving an interview earlier this week) insisted the Brexit issue must be resolved – if necessary through a referendum – before an election is triggered
However, he made clear If a deal could not pass through the Commons then he would support a confirmatory referendum ‘to bring this to a close’.
He said he did not believe that MPs would trigger an early election – which requires two-thirds support in the Commons – until after the Brexit situation was resolved.
‘I’ve heard all sorts of predictions of the election timing — next week, next minute, next day — but I have never been confident they were right because I think we will get a majority in the House of Commons who agree with the view that I take, which is that it is better to get the Brexit issues resolved first and have an election after,’ Sir Oliver said.
‘That means either you get a deal and get it in place, which is relatively quick, or you have a deal followed by a referendum, which is relatively long.’
Sir Oliver said he believed calls for an election were ‘likely to go on being defeated’.
‘The Prime Minister can put that proposition any number of times but I don’t think it is one that is attractive to a majority in the House of Commons,’ he said.
‘The reason is that it muddles things up. Elections are decided on the basis of all sorts of concerns that people have about whom they want to have govern them. The Brexit issue is a different kind of issue.’
If a referendum was to be triggered after a Brexit extension, experts believe it would take many months to organise and pass the necessary legislation. Potentially an election would then not be possible until next summer.
Mr Johnson has flatly ruled out a second referendum. But he is now leading a minority government, after stripping 21 Tory MPs of the whip for rebelling to help pass legislation blocking No Deal.
Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he wants to fight an election, but Labour would campaign on holding a referendum on any deal it manages to negotiate with the EU,
Several shadow cabinet members have made clear that the party would campaign for Remain in that ballot – even if Mr Corbyn had managed to negotiate a deal.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson – who has been pushing for a referendum before an election – has hailed the position being taken by Sir Oliver.
The intervention by the former Cabinet minister will alarm Boris Johnson, whose efforts to go to the country for a new mandate have been blocked by MPs twice over the past fortnight