Peston: Starmer grilled on chance of winning general election
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The Prime Minister is reportedly considering catching Sir Keir Starmer off-guard by heading to the polls a year earlier than planned in November or December 2023. The Tories stormed to a landslide victory in December 2019 and Mr Johnson is hoping lightning can strike twice.
The next general election is scheduled to take place in May 2024 – but the Government is currently in the process of tearing up the legislation that outlines the timetable for an election.
A cabinet source believes another Christmas election will be an “advantage” for the Conservatives and dent the chances of a Labour victory.
They told the Mirror: “Labour struggles to get their people out more than we do which gives us an advantage.
“And we think people will begin to see the results of the PM’s levelling up agenda with roads being constructed and houses built in the midlands and the north.”
The Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to confirm whether he will serve a full five-year term in office, which could take him up to the scheduled election cycle in 2024.
Oliver Dowden, who was appointed chair of the Conservative Party in the recent cabinet reshuffle, has been placed on standby for an early vote.
Speaking this week, he said: “The Prime Minister has told me to make sure the Conservative Party machine is ready to go for an election whenever it comes.”
Under the current Fixed-term Parliament Act, the Prime Minister would need the support of two-thirds of MPs in parliament to hold a premature election.
However, the Prime Minister will soon be freed-up to trigger a vote at his own discretion when the 2011 law is eventually repealed.
The legislation was created by the Tory coalition government to prevent the-then Prime Minister David Cameron from calling an early vote and ousting the Liberal Democrats from power.
The last general election was called in December 2019 in order to clear the deadlock in parliament caused by Brexit.
Mr Johnson smashed through the Labour “Red Wall” and led the Tories to an 80-seat victory over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party on a pledge to “Get Brexit Done”.
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General elections are traditionally held in May in order to boost the turnout of the electorate.
During the cold and dark vote in December, turnout was 67.3 percent – down by 1.5 percent from the summer election in 2017.
The Prime Minister injected his campaign spirit earlier this week as he delivered his first speech to the Tory party conference since winning the keys to Number 10.
Addressing the Tory faithful in Manchester, Mr Johnson wasted no time mocking his opposite number of former sparring partner at the ballot box.
In a brutal swipe at Mr Corbyn, the Prime Minister said: “It is the first time since the general election of 2019 when we finally sent that corduroyed cosmonaut into orbit where he belongs.”
Mr Johnson also took aim at Sir Keir Starmer’s 90-minute speech to the Labour conference in Brighton, which saw the former Director of Public Prosecutions heckled by left-wing fans of the Islington North MP.
Mr Johnson said: “Their leader looked like a seriously rattled bus conductor, pushed this way and that by a Corbynista mob, Sellotaped-spectacled soggy lot.
“Remember Labour’s performance during the pandemic? Flapping with the conviction of a damp tea towel.”
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