LONDON — Senior figures in the Conservative Party are reportedly secretly trying to persuade Prime Minister Theresa May to hold a general election in just six weeks time.
Tory Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin, chief whip Gavin Williamson, and May’s private secretary George Hollingbery have discussed advising May to call a snap election on May 4, according to the Times.
The alleged thinking behind an early election is that a comfortable majority victory for the Conservatives — which polls currently suggest is the most likely outcome — would give May a much stronger hand in the Commons ahead of crucial votes on Brexit legislation and divisive policies like the ban on new grammar schools being lifted.
Downing Street has repeatedly ruled out an early election, but a number of Tory MPs have privately been encouraging Williamson to push the idea to the prime minister with a crushing victory over the Labour Party a strong possibility.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has been on “early election footing” since the end of last year in preparation for a 2017 general election, the party’s chief elections strategist Andrew Gwynne said over the weekend.
If May does decide to call a snap election then she’ll first have to find a way of overcoming the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which requires general elections to take place once every five years.
The prime minister would be able to circumvent this law at least two-thirds of MPs voted in favour of amending it.
Labour MP Gwynne told the BBC’s Andrew Neil that it would be “difficult” for the party not to support a hold an early election as it would be an opportunity to remove the Tories from government.
“It would be very difficult not to because if the government wants to dissolve parliament, wants a general election, we don’t want the Tories to be in government, we want to be in government.
“We want to have an opportunity to put that case to the British people,” he said.
Labour shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott told The Independent last week that her party would win an election “whenever” decides to hold it, despite the party’s continuing to trail the Tories by massive margins in opinion polls.
An Ipsos MORI survey published last week gave May’s ruling Conservatives a 13-point lead over Labour.
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