Some of Mr Corbyn’s most senior aides are keen to trigger an election as soon as possible amid concerns voters will be unimpressed if Labour turns down the chance of a poll after spending the last two years demanding one. One party insider told the Financial Times there are fears Labour “will look cowardly if it refuses to back an early poll”.
But the majority of Labour MPs — including shadow ministers — do not want an election before October 31, the scheduled date for Brexit.
They fear Boris Johnson would win an election on his preferred date of October 15 and secure a mandate to take Britain out of the EU without a deal.
But Mr Johnson’s hopes of securing an election on his own terms appear to be fading as opposition parties continue to resist a vote before the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 is eliminated.
Opposition leaders have agreed to vote against or abstain from a call for a general election on Monday after a cross-party conference call this morning.
A Liberal Democrats spokeswoman described the call between leader Jo Swinson, Mr Corbyn and others as “constructive”.
She said: “We were all clear we are not going to let Boris Johnson cut and run.
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“The Liberal Democrat position for a while now is that we won’t vote for a general election until we have an extension agreed with the EU. I think the others are coming round to that.
“As a group we will all vote against or abstain on Monday.”
This view is shared by the Plaid Cymru, the Independent Group and some — if not all — Scottish National Party MPs.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said his comments were an indication of how the Prime Minister was “as slippery as can be” and could not be trusted over the timing of polling day.
She said: “If we vote to have a general election then, no matter what it is that Boris Johnson promises, it is up to him to advise the Queen when the general election should be.
“We have a Prime Minister who is so unlike any other prime minister that we have had. In the past, if you passed a law you could be pretty sure the prime minister will abide by that law.
“But we heard from the Prime Minister’s own mouth that he will die in a ditch – obviously I hope he doesn’t, but I actually hope he would obey the law.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “We have to be careful that we don’t walk into a trap.
“I want the removal of Boris Johnson. I want an election. But we’ll do it in a way that there are not unintended consequences.”
He added Mr Johnson “is not going to compel parliamentarians to give him a mandate to determine the timing – we don’t trust him”.
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