Snap General Election could be called by Theresa May next year to get Brexit plan through Commons, MPs say

Prime Minister accused of being 'scared' of MPs

Arj Singh
Thursday 03 November 2016 17:29
Prime Minister Theresa May campaigning for the Witney by-election in October
Prime Minister Theresa May campaigning for the Witney by-election in October

Theresa May could call a snap general election next year to ensure she has enough supportive MPs to get her Brexit plan through the House of Commons, MPs have said.

They spoke after the High Court ruled that the Prime Minister needs parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin the formal process of leaving the European Union.

Tory former minister Dominic Raab said if the debate gets to the stage where Remain-backing MPs are threatening to block the triggering of Article 50 in a Commons vote, Mrs May could call an election.

While the Tories are consistently polling strong leads over Labour, several of the party's MPs are opposed to a so-called "hard Brexit" outside the European single market, threatening Mrs May's working Commons majority of 15.

But a snap vote could give Mrs May the numbers required to get parliamentary approval for her proposed Brexit timing and strategy.

The PM has committed to triggering Article 50 by the end of March and has insisted she will not reveal her negotiating hand before doing so, despite calls from MPs to clarify her plan.

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the next election is not due to take place until 2020 unless the Government loses a vote of no confidence or there is a vote by MPs with a two-thirds majority in favour of an early election.

Appearing on BBC Two's Daily Politics alongside Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, Mr Raab said: "I think that's the Pandora's Box.

"I think the elephant in the room here is if we get to the stage where effectively Stephen and his colleagues are not willing to allow this negotiation to even begin, I think there must be an increased chance that we will need to go to the country again.

"I think that would be a mistake and I don't think those trying to frustrate the verdict in the referendum will be rewarded."

But Mr Kinnock accused Mr Raab and Mrs May of being "scared" of MPs.

"There was a pre-referendum majority for Remain in the House of Commons, there is now a post-referendum clear majority for Leave," he said.

"I don't know what Dominic and the Prime Minister and all these people are scared of.

"Why don't we just have a mature, sober debate in Parliament, as we do on any issue that comes before us, and this happens to be the most important since the Second World War.

"Let's have the debate, let's put it forward.

"In terms of an election, bring it on."

High court rules Brexit needs Parliamentary approval

Labour MP Mike Gapes said a general election before Article 50 is triggered was now likely.

He tweeted: "I predicted an early election. I think this court judgment makes it now very likely before Article 50 is triggered."

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes slashed its odds on a general election next year to 2/1.

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