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'Boris won't find this easy' - MPs react to prospect of snap general election

PUBLISHED: 15:55 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:21 02 September 2019

The prospect of a snap general election is growing after prime minister Boris Johnson called an unscheduled cabinet meeting. Picture: Getty Images

The prospect of a snap general election is growing after prime minister Boris Johnson called an unscheduled cabinet meeting. Picture: Getty Images

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Boris Johnson has been "preparing" for a general election with "big announcements" and "photo opportunities", according to a Norfolk Tory MP.

Keith Simpson is stepping down after 22 years as an MP. Picture: Colin FinchKeith Simpson is stepping down after 22 years as an MP. Picture: Colin Finch

The prospect of a snap poll is growing increasingly likely, with the prime minister due to hold an unscheduled cabinet meeting at 5pm on Monday.

Mr Johnson will also meet with Tory MPs after threatening to deselect those who rebel over Brexit, barring them from standing as Conservatives in the event of an election.

He has said the UK must leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.

Mr Johnson would have to ask parliament to approve a snap election, a decision which could be made as soon as this week.

And Broadland MP Keith Simpson, who in July voted against the government for the first time in his 22-year parliamentary career, says the possibility of an election is far from shocking.

"This doesn't surprise me at all," said Mr Simpson. "All the work on public persona, the photo opportunities, the big announcements over the last few weeks - that has all been in preparation for a general election.

"Johnson finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He has declared that we are going to leave the EU come what may on October 31, but he has a wobbly majority of one MP.

"Having discussed it with my colleagues, I have to say it is not going to be easy for Johnson to win. It may be an election he wants to win on Brexit, but we all know general elections cover a multitude of other things.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis says a general election is Norwich South MP Clive Lewis says a general election is "not in the national interest". Picture: PA Images

"We went into the June 2017 election well ahead in the polls, thinking Jeremy Corbyn was destined to lose heavily, and we all know what happened there.

"We keep hearing these stories from No. 10 that Dominic Cummings thinks we are going to win seats in the north, but tribal loyalties are much stronger in Labour areas than he thinks.

"The Liberal Democrats are getting stronger too and I can tell you my colleagues in the south west are very nervous. Ruth Davidson is stepping down too and now 13 seats in Scotland look vulnerable."

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, believes voters would "fall into a bear trap" if Mr Johnson is permitted to call for an election.

"If Boris Johnson is given the power to call a general election, he has the power to set the date," added Mr Lewis. "He could call it on October 31, so he would still be prime minister until the Brexit deadline passes.

"I don't think a general election is in the national interest at the moment, and it's certainly not in the national interest to give Boris Johnson the power to call an election.

"We have to make sure processes are in place to stop no-deal before we consider a general election. It would be a pitfall in terms of no-deal and we should not be jumping when Boris Johnson says jump."

"We want to see the Tories out but we don't want to see a no-deal happen."

Waveney MP Peter Aldous says the government should focus on a Brexit deal instead of a general election. Picture: UK ParliamentWaveney MP Peter Aldous says the government should focus on a Brexit deal instead of a general election. Picture: UK Parliament

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, says the government's focus should not be on a potential election, but instead on securing a Brexit deal.

He said: "The important thing the government should be focused on is securing the deal to leave the EU by October 31. The government and the EU need to enter discussions as quickly as possible to see if we can reach an agreement at this very late hour.

"I think the whole situation has now been going on for a very long time and people are walking round and round in ever decreasing circles, so we need to get on and deliver that, preferably with a deal.

"There are a whole number of permutations of what might happen and of course one of those is a general election. From my perspective, I will be ready for whatever eventuality takes place."

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