Labour could oppose a general election if Boris Johnson tries to call for one

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Several Labour sources have claimed that the opposition party could vote against a general election to avoid it falling into the 'elephant trap' posed by Boris Johnson.

Critics of Johnson have raised fears that an election mooted for October 14 if opponents win this week's parliamentary showdown could be a move to force a no-deal by delaying the date of the vote.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has said that Labour could abstain, or vote against and said she wanted to see the bill ruling out a no-deal Brexit on 31 October passed first.

She said Labour would vote for one "on our own terms and in our own time and not as a result of any provocation from Boris Johnson".

Labour chief whip Nick Brown is understood to have told the PLP meeting that they would not be "falling into" an "elephant trap" over fears that the polling date could be changed.

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Shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis told the PA news agency: "All that was said is there's no way we are going to fall into a general election trap.

"It was unequivocal. We will not be falling into that elephant trap if no-deal is a possibility. It just won't happen."

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Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said one possibility would be to vote against a request for an election by the PM, which would need the support of two thirds of MPs.

"One option is not to back it. One option is to do something else that would prevent Boris from what he's trying to do," Mr Russell-Moyle said.

"And there's another option on the table that would scrap it entirely."

Although dismissed by Downing Street insiders as "tinfoil hat stuff", shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth had earlier in the day urged caution over the possibility the PM may shift the election date.

"If he wants a general election to ram through what I believe is a disastrous no-deal Brexit which will lead to medicine shortages, food shortages, chaos for people at the borders, then we are not prepared to endorse that trick," he told BBC Radio 4's World At One.

Corbyn and shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer are understood to have met with the Commons Clerk's office to discuss various options amid election concerns and no-deal legislation.

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