General election cannot happen before October 31, says Bercow
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announced on Thursday that a general election cannot now take place before October 31, the date the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.
Due to existing rules on the amount of time required to arrange a national poll, the earliest possible date a general election could occur is now November 5.
When asked by Labour shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon whether it was correct that the earliest election could now be on November 5, Bercow responded: “I can confirm that my understanding of the electoral timetable under the existing statutory framework is the same as his”.
MPs have twice dismissed prime minister Boris Johnson’s attempts to force an early general election, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying that he will not back a motion to force a public vote until the risk of a no-deal Brexit in the short-term has been removed.
MPs have also rejected the government’s motion for a short three-day recess in order to accommodate the upcoming Conservative party conference.
The motion was defeated by a majority of 17, with 289 MPs backing recess and 306 voting against.
It is the eighth vote in eight that the government has conceded in the House of Commons during Boris Johnson’s premiership.
The Conservative party conference is due to begin from Sunday September 29 until Wednesday October 2, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats have already held their annual events.
It causes a headache for the prime minister who was due to give his speech to the Conservative party conference on Wednesday, which will now clash with Prime Minister’s Questions back in Parliament.
Former Conservative turned Independent MP Nick Boles, who voted against a conference recess, tweeted: “After the PM’s behaviour yesterday, I think it is crucial that he be held to account at PMQs next Wednesday”.
The Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake was also “pleased” that a recess had been blocked, adding on Twitter: “We have only just resumed sitting after being unlawfully dismissed by Boris Johnson. Now was not the time to grant the government additional time to sit on its hands and avoid scrutiny."
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg assured MPs of his confidence that Johnson would “make his normal appearance” in Parliament on Wednesday to face PMQs despite the crossover.