Conservative chairman brands Lib Dem-SNP general election bid a 'gimmick'

PUBLISHED: 11:55 27 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:07 27 October 2019

Conservative chairman James Cleverly on BBC's Andrew Marr show. Picture: BBC

Conservative chairman James Cleverly on BBC's Andrew Marr show. Picture: BBC

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MP James Cleverly has labelled the Liberal Democrats bid to give Boris Johnson his pre-Christmas election a "gimmick".

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The Conservative chairman James Cleverly told BBC's Andrew Marr that the Lib Dem's proposal for an election three days earlier than the prime minister's suggested date on December 9 - was unacceptable.

He said: "We're not going to listen to two parties who explicitly said they want to stop Brexit from happening.

"Their bill moves the election date by three days and takes the Withdrawal Agreement Bill completely off the table and if they really want to vote for an election then they can vote for the bill that we gave him."

Referring to the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson's earlier statements that she would respect the referendum vote, Cleverly told Andrew Marr that he was "a little bit cynical about some of the promises we get from the opposition benches."

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Cleverly added: "The sequencing and timing we've put forwards would see us delivering Brexit with a deal which is what many people claimed was completely impossible, and it has a general election so that we can get a sustainable working majority to deliver on the priorities British people tell us about."

Earlier on Sky's Sophie Ridge on Sunday, the Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, also dismissed the proposals as a "stunt".

She said it would not change the government's decision to put a motion before the House of Commons on Monday asking MPs for an election on December 12.

Morgan said: "If the SNP and Lib Dems want an election then they have a chance to vote for one as quickly as tomorrow when the government's motion is voted on.

"We will see if they are in our lobby or not."

The Monday motion put down by the prime minister would need two-thirds of parliamentarians - 434 out of 650 - to back the move under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, while the Lib Dem-SNP proposal of a tightly-drafted Bill on Tuesday would need only a simple majority.

With the backing of 19 Lib Dem and 35 SNP MPs, the prime minister could secure an election without requiring Labour's support - but the polling date would not be his to choose.

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