Cleverly: Tories will not ‘initiate’ a general election this year

PUBLISHED: 10:43 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:45 04 August 2019

Boris Johnson in the village of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA Wire

Boris Johnson in the village of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA Wire

The Tory party chairman has insisted the Conservatives are not going to “initiate” a general election, amid speculation Boris Johnson will call for a vote to deliver Brexit.

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The prime minister was reported to be plotting for an election to boost his diminishing ranks in parliament and increase his chances of getting a deal past MPs.

His flurry of spending commitments, including a £1.8 billion NHS pledge, have fuelled thinking that he is trying to woo voters.

But chairman James Cleverly sought to rule out a national vote this year.

"There isn't. We are not going to initiate a general election," he said, when appearing on Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

"What we've got is a new prime minister who during the leadership campaign made a number of explicit commitments and he is setting about delivering on those commitments.

"Prime ministers making good on their promises is a good thing and that is what we are doing."

On top of the NHS spending, Johnson has unveiled plans to hire 20,000 extra police officers and pledged £2.1 billion to increase no-deal preparations.

He says a new Withdrawal Agreement is his preferred option for leaving the EU, but shepherding this through parliament is becoming ever more challenging, even if he can secure a deal from Brussels.

This week his already slender working majority became just one when the Tories lost the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

Theresa May failed three times to get her agreement through parliament, and that was with the support of more MPs.

One way to potentially improve his numbers would be for Johnson to get about two thirds of MPs to support a motion for a general election.

But he could rely on Labour trying to bring down his administration with a vote of no confidence, which could also bring about a national vote if a new government is not formed within a fortnight.

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