THE campaign starts here. Boris Johnson has promised to give MPs more time to scrutinise the Brexit deal he negotiated with the EU — if they sign up to an election on December 12.
‘We are going to give them all the time they want, between now and the dissolution of parliament to do scrutiny,’ he said yesterday.
‘We have had three years, we have been reasonable, if you want more time you can have it but we must all agree to go for an election on December 12.’
Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, two thirds of MPs have to agree to an early election.
Labour may yet again refuse to support Mr Johnson’s plan — it has cited the threat of an accidental no-deal Brexit as the reason for its opposition. But it will be hard for that line to hold much longer if — as expected — the EU today grants an extension until January.
When it looked like there was no possibility of parliament agreeing to a Brexit deal, an early election didn’t look like it was going to happen.
Now that there is finally a deal that has a chance of passing through parliament (MPs voted for the second reading of the agreement Mr Johnson negotiated with Brussels) we might end up having an election anyway.
The prime minister — and many in No.10 — want an election before Christmas because they think they would have a better chance of winning it.
If we haven’t left the EU when the vote is called, it will be a ‘Brexit election’ where Mr Johnson can portray himself as the one trying to enact the ‘will of the people’ in the face of a reluctant parliament, mopping up the Leave vote while hoping the Remain vote is split between Labour and the Lib Dems.
The opposite is true for many in Labour, who feel that their best chance of winning an election is next year, when they can focus on domestic issues other than Brexit.
MPs will vote on Monday about whether to call a December election — the first since 1923.
If I were them, I’d get out the warm coats and Santa hats ready for weeks of pounding the frosty pavements.
Women’s team is kicking against Brexit division
THIS week I enjoyed a break from the bitterness of the Brexit debate for something far more positive — a day training with the parliamentary women’s football team.
The cross-party group — which includes MPs like Conservative Tracey Crouch, the SNP’S Hannah Bardell and Labour’s Alison McGovern — proves that you don’t need to be on the same side of the debate to get along.
Ms Crouch played for the long-established parliamentary men’s team until 2011, when the FA barred her from taking part because she was a woman. The Westminster-based PR Jo Tanner set up the women’s team in March last year and it’s now a welcome tonic to the divisiveness of today’s politics.
The full report will be on Sophy Ridge on Sunday this weekend, at 8.30am on Sky News.
We can’t let politics cloud this horror
THE news that 31 men and eight women were found dead in a lorry container in Essex has hit hard.
The discovery of the bodies of the 39 Chinese nationals — reportedly frozen in a refrigerated container — is one of the worst of its kind in the UK. We don’t yet know why the men and women made the desperate journey, but it must provoke a policy response to try and prevent these terrible things from happening again. If Brexit clouds out the debate that should follow, that would be a real tragedy.