Tory deputy chair says he hopes there isn't an election as poll puts Labour ahead

PUBLISHED: 10:11 31 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 31 March 2019

James Cleverly on Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

James Cleverly on Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

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The Conservative party's deputy chairman James Cleverly has said he hopes Theresa May does not call a snap election, as a new poll puts Labour ahead of the Tories.

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Speaking on Sky News, Cleverly said that the party is “not planning for a general election” before admitting that it was doing “sensible pragmatic planning”.

He added: “We run the risk of Brexit not happening at all. I think that would be an absolutely catastrophic failure. The collapse in confidence from the British electors, the undermining of democracy I think would be a catastrophically bad move.”

The latest Delta poll gives Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party a five point lead as it registers Labour on 41% of support and the Conservatives on 36%.

It follows a Survation poll which put the opposition four points ahead.

In a fresh general election Theresa May would effectively be a lame duck leader - having said she will stand down once she has got Brexit through - and voters would be voting “blind” not knowing who her successor would be.

Under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the prime minister needs a two-thirds majority in order to call an election.

However, after her disastrous decision to go to the polls early in 2017, Tory MPs made clear they would not be prepared to support her in doing so again.

Few Tory MPs speaking publicly over the weekend appear convinced by the strategy.

Former minister Alastair Burt told Sky: “We’re all with Brenda from Bristol on this - oh no, not another one. I don’t see a general election now adding to the mix that we’re in at the moment as anything that would be likely to be helpful to the country, whoever leads the Conservative Party or Labour Party or anyone else at the moment.”

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan told the Observer: “If we have a general election before Brexit is resolved, it will only make things worse.”

Mark Francois, the deputy chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, said there was “not a chance” MPs would back an election under her leadership.

“Of course they wouldn’t - not after last time. And remember, she needs a super majority to do it,” he said.

Nigel Evans, executive secretary of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee, said the cabinet would block it.

“I don’t believe the cabinet would allow her to do it,” he said.

“Theresa May cannot call an election, she cannot be the leader who would lead us into it. The party would not tolerate it.”

Antoinette Sandbach, who backs a second referendum, said: “The answer is not a general election, and I would vote against that. We need to find a way forward in parliament.”

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