Theresa May could call a General Election as early as next month
A covert group of Tory MPs, kept secret from even the Cabinet, has been putting together a plan since early December for the Prime Minister to call an election for February following a surge in support for the Conservative Party.
The move depended entirely on the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing held last month, with the Tory advisers saying the election would only happen if judges ruled against the Government’s appeal of a High Court decision which ruled parliamentary approval needs to be given before Article 50 can be triggered to start the process of leaving the European Union (EU).
On Tuesday, Supreme Court judges did just that, triggering the plans for a “mandate election” in which Theresa May would be put forwards as the champion of “the people versus the judges”.
Although the Prime Minister remains popular, the secret Tory group, originally revealed by the Mail on Sunday last year, does not want her lack of a personal mandate to hold her back, as it did with Jim Callaghan and Gordon Brown.
Without a majority in the House of Lords and a smaller working majority than when she took over from David Cameron, thanks to the loss of Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond Park, a General Election win would bolster Mrs May’s position as leader and make Article 50 amendments run more smoothly.
Growing approval for the Conservatives amid plunging support for Labour has buoyed the secret Tory group into wanting to hold a General Election as soon as possible to ride the wave of support.
Polling this week by respected pollsters ICM put the Conservatives on 42 per cent (unchanged over the past fortnight), Labour on 26 per cent (down two per cent), Ukip on 13 per cent (up one per cent) and the Lib Dems on 10 per cent (up one per cent).
Theresa May has been gaining support since she became Prime Minister last summer
In pro-Brexit Stoke-on-Trent, where a by-election will take place on February 23, Labour faces an even more dramatic collapse, with a Facebook poll by Labour Leave showing the party slumping 10 points behind Ukip.
An Express.co.uk poll of 11,115 people revealed 78 per cent believe Mrs May will win if she holds a General Election in February.
Government Loses Brexit Vote Appeal
Tue, January 24, 2017
Britain's most senior judges ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May does not have the power to trigger the formal process Article 50 for the UK's exit from the European Union without Parliament having a say.
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Issued by the Supreme Court of (top row, from the left) Lord Neuberger, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Sumption, (bottom row, from the left) Lady Hale, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson and Lord Hodge, who agreed with the majority decision that the Government could not trigger Article 50 without Parliamentary approval.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said she will remain with the electoral timetable which would mean an Election in 2020.
However, as she gains more and more ground from floundering Labour her advisors are keen to move the vote forward.
David Cameron won his second election in 2015 and Theresa May took over a year later
Mrs May has taken on the task of getting a deal for post-Brexit Britain
Some political commentators, including author Ross Clark, are putting May 4 in the diary for an election but the Tory group is believed to be keen for the election to go ahead before Article 50 is triggered at the end of March.
Following the Supreme Court announcement on Tuesday, Mrs May wasted no time in promising a White Paper detailing the Government’s Brexit plans would go ahead.
Yesterday the Government published its bill asking Parliament for permission to trigger the official Brexit process.
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But MPs, especially Labour politicians, hit out at at the time-scale which gives them three days to debate the European Union Notification of Withdrawal Bill next Tuesday and Wednesday with a third day of debate and a vote on February 8.
Former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna accused ministers of attempting to “muzzle” the Commons by rushing the bill through in just a fortnight.
The uproar could boost the Tory’s decision to hold a General Election as two Labour frontbenchers have quit after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn laid down a three-line whip to get his MPs to support triggering Article 50.