Christmas election looms as Labour say ‘let’s do it’

PUBLISHED: 12:40 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:29 29 October 2019

Norwich MPs Chloe Smith and Clive Lewis have welcomed Labour's choice to back a Christmas general election

Norwich MPs Chloe Smith and Clive Lewis have welcomed Labour's choice to back a Christmas general election

PA Wire/PA Images

Norfolk is set to go to the polls after Labour finally agreed to back a pre-Christmas election.

Last night Labour abstained on a vote to dissolve parliament and go to the country on December 12. But now leader Jeremy Corbyn claims he is satisfied a no-deal Brexit is "off the table" and has promised the "most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen".

Labour's Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who was initially "torn" over whether now was the right time for an election, echoed his leader's enthusiasm saying: "Let's do it."

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After the defeat of the government's bill setting out a time table to get a Brexit deal through parliament, Tory Chloe Smith, Norwich North, said: "Norwich Conservatives are ready for an election. We want to get Brexit done and move on to support our NHS, schools and police."

Speaking after a meeting of a shadow cabinet Mr Corbyn said: "We have now heard from the EU that the extension of Article 50 to January 31 has been confirmed, so for the next three months, our condition of taking no-deal off the table has now been met."

Boris Johnson will attempt to convince the Commons to vote for a December 12 election at his fourth time of asking this evening using a short bill which sets aside the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, requiring only a simple majority of MPs.

However the Liberal Democrats and the SNP are reluctant to accept his date - fearing it allows time to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill before MPs ahead of the start of the campaign.

They have previously signalled support for a poll on December 9, but could put forward a proposal for an election on December 11 - which the government is likely to accept.

A Number 10 source said: "If there's an amendment to the 11th we could accept."

But Mr Corbyn's move does not mean a December election is certain, with Labour expected to support amendments to the Bill.

Other amendments reflecting their policy, such as votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, are being considered.

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The party is understood to back a change to the proposed date which, if such an amendment is selected by the speaker, could be backed by the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

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