Tory MP: Government division rumours ‘absolutely correct’

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Conservative MP Alistair Burt has told talkRADIO that rumours of division among Boris Johnson’s government are “absolutely correct”.

Number 10 has denied reports of disagreements between Conservative ministers and senior advisers over when the Prime Minister would be best-placed to call a general election.

Mr Johnson has pledged to push for a snap poll straight away if the European Union grants his request for a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline until January 31.

He has paused debate on his Withdrawal Agreement Bill after MPs rejected its fast-tracked schedule, with chief adviser Dominic Cummings said to be leading the calls to abandon getting the deal through Parliament and go for an election.

However, others in government want to persuade the leader to deliver Brexit, even if he does so after the promised deadline, before heading to the ballot box.

They have argued that if there is an election before the UK has left the EU, it will play into the hands of Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

Mr Burt said he sided with colleagues who want to hold off on an election so that Mr Johnson can focus his campaign on domestic policy rather than Brexit.

He told Mike Graham: “If he secures the deal in Parliament, the legislation has gone through and we have left the EU, then actually that argument is closed."

Even if Mr Johnson does decide to press for an early election there is no guarantee that he will succeed, as he requires a two-third majority in Parliament, which would require the backing of the Labour Party.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, however, said Labour is prepared for an election before Christmas “if necessary”.

The decision from the EU on whether to allow an extension until the end of January – as requested in a letter Mr Johnson was forced to send – is expected in the coming days.

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