UK Conservatives not eyeing election

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • Theresa May’s Conservative Party isn’t actively preparing for a general election (GE), its deputy chairman said, even as Parliament looks set to push her to adopt a proposal for a softer Brexit today, three days after resoundingly rejecting her plan for a third time.

Conservative Party’s James Cleverly said the party isn’t preparing for a snap GE, because it wouldn’t solve anything and could cause an “unnecessary delay’’ to Brexit.

But in a Sky News interview, he didn’t rule one out.

“We are not planning for a GE,” Cleverly said, before telling interviewer Sophy Ridge, “we have got a minority government in a turbulent time” that is engaging in “sensible pragmatic planning — but we are not seeking, preparing in that kind of sense that I think you mean for a GE”.

Cleverly also said that if there were an election soon, it’s an “inevitable possibility’’ that May would lead the Conservatives into it, even though she has pledged to stand down. A leadership election in those circumstances, he said, would introduce “delay and uncertainty”.

The next scheduled GE is in 2022. Deputy Labour Party Leader Tom Watson said whatever comes out of Parliament’s attempts to find a new way forward on Brexit should be put to a second referendum. The question should pit “May’s deal, maybe with concessions, and Remain” against each other, he said.

“Whatever the outcome of the withdrawal deal negotiations, if it’s underpinned by a people’s vote, I believe we can eventually win a consensus that that’s the way forward,” he told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” yesterday.

“That’s the only way we can bring the country back together now.”

Watson also said his party is gearing up for a GE. — Bloomberg