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As sign of cracks emerge...

SNP and LibDems call for 9 December general election

Ian Blackford

Ian Blackford: ‘We will not be bullied’ (pic: Terry Murden)

The Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have joined forces to call for a 9 December election.

They will work together to back a bill amending the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act and secure a general election on that date once an extension to the Brexit deadline to at least the end of January 2020 has been secured.

In a joint letter they have asked EU Council President Donald Tusk to grant a three-month extension of the date for Brexit.

However, there were signs of a split in the SNP ranks over the merits of an early election.Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil tweeted: “I am not getting bounced in to this… Thursday it was “madness” to have a winter election. Any election now will be a Proxy Brexit referendum and Hard Brexit could be won in 6 weeks on only 35% to 40% of the vote.”

The Labour Party is awaiting the European Union’s decision on a Brexit delay before deciding whether to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid for an early election, the party’s health spokesman said.

Jon Ashworth told Sky News Labour would consider its support for an early election if the EU approved an extension to the Brexit process until the end of January.

“Of course we want a general election but we’ve got to make sure that we get those absolute reassurances that Boris Johnson won’t use a general election and the campaign to crash us out of the European Union with a disastrous no deal Brexit,” he said. “That is what we’re waiting for.”

Mr Johnson has proposed a 12 December election and said that if MPs support his vote in the Commons to call an election, he will use the remaining time before Parliament is dissolved on 6 November to try to pass the legislation for his Brexit deal.

MPs will vote on Monday on a motion to call an election for that day, but Labour has rejected his election call unless a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table. The Democratic Unionist Party – on whom the government has relied for support – has reserved judgment until Monday.

The SNP are ready for an election but it must be on Parliament’s terms – not Boris Johnson’s.

– Ian Blackford

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “SNP MPs will reject Boris Johnson’s election motion on Monday which seeks to first allow him to force through his devastating Brexit deal and take the UK out of the EU. We will not be bullied by this Prime Minister and we will not play his games.

“The SNP is prepared to back a bill that seeks to bring forward an early general election on Monday 9 December once an extension to the Brexit deadline to the 31 January 2020 has been secured.

“The SNP are ready for an election but it must be on Parliament’s terms – not Boris Johnson’s.

“This bill is one way to get an election but if this bill does not pass we in the SNP are clear that all options must be on the table – including a vote of no confidence. Opposition parties must work together to remove this dangerous Tory government from office.

“With time fast running out, it is vital that we now secure a meaningful extension and bring forward an early general election.”

Opponents and commentators have noted that Mr Blackford only recently told Channel Four news: “People are not going to thank you for asking them to come out and vote in a general election when we’re in the middle of winter.”

Mr Johnson warned MPs could “just waste the next three months” debating Brexit, if the UK was given an extension until the end of January.

The PM said he did not want an election and would rather be “getting on” with governing the country but urged MPs to back his election timetable and “move our country forward”.

“Millions of businesses and people cannot plan their futures,” he said. “This paralysis is causing real damage and the country must move on in 2020.”

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