General Election isn’t in the national interest, May claims (again)

Theresa May speaking at the United Nations headquarters. (Peter Foley/Pool Photo via AP)

Theresa May speaking at the United Nations headquarters. (Peter Foley/Pool Photo via AP) - Credit: AP

Theresa May has repeated a claim that a general election before Brexit is not in the national interest.

She made the claim to scotch suggestions of a November poll after reports that Downing Street officials had war-gamed a winter vote.

Speaking to reporters as she flew to New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, May said: 'What I'm doing is working to deliver a good deal with Europe in the national interest.

'It would not be in the national interest to have an election.'

May last made similar claims before she went on a walking holiday last year - only to call for a general election on her return.

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After losing the Conservatives' overall majority in the House of Commons in the snap election which she called in 2017, May is generally thought to be wary of taking the risk of going to the country early again.

Under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act, no general election is due to be held until 2022.

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But there have been reports that some within her administration believe a fresh poll could give her the comfortable majority she needs to drive through a Brexit deal in the face of increasingly robust opposition from both the Leave and Remain wings of her party.

Some Brexiteers have predicted that up to 80 Tories could vote against any deal based on the blueprint for future relations with the EU agreed at her Chequers country residence in July.

And there are believed to be enough pro-EU Tories in the Commons to block a harder Brexit deal by voting with Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

May's comments come amid increasingly vocal demands from Labour for an early election, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell sending a challenge to the Government to 'bring it on'.

Speaking at Labour's annual conference in Liverpool, Jeremy Corbyn confirmed that his party is ready to vote down any agreement May reaches with Brussels if it does not meet six tests set out by shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer.

Corbyn told the BBC that in this scenario, 'the greater likelihood is that the Government will then collapse itself and we'd have an election in which I hope the people of this country would make it a choice of a different government that was serious about our relationship and serious about protecting trade.'

Any Commons vote on a Brexit deal is expected to come after the middle of November, when a special Brussels summit is mooted to try to finalise the UK's withdrawal agreement.

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