Downing Street rejects Hague call for snap election

Lord HagueImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Lord Hague said calling an early election could strengthen the government's hand

Downing Street has rejected former Conservative leader Lord Hague's call to hold a snap general election.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague said bringing forward an election "would strengthen the government's hand at home and abroad" which could help with Brexit negotiations.

A No 10 source told the BBC it was not something Prime Minister Theresa May "plans to do or wishes to do".

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour was ready to take its case to the country.

The next election is due in May 2020 under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

Lord Hague suggested repealing the legislation, which was brought in by the coalition government, but acknowledged an imminent election was unlikely.

Lord Hague said the government faced "the most complex challenges of modern times".

These included "Brexit negotiations, the Trump administration, the threat from Scottish nationalists, and many other issues".

A snap election "would catch the Labour Party in its worst condition since the early 30s, and with its least credible leader ever".

Media caption,

Jeremy Corbyn: "I don't want to see this government in office"

"There is no doubt that they (the prime minister and cabinet) would be in a stronger position to take the country through these challenges successfully if they had a large and decisive majority in the Commons and a new full term ahead of them," he said.

"Any [Brexit] deal is bound to be full of compromises which one group or another in Parliament finds difficult to stomach.

Analysis by Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

Image source, Reuters

Theresa May has a reputation around Whitehall for following the evidence.

Ministers who might not automatically see themselves as her bosom political buddies report that she gives "a fair hearing" and "you can really influence her decisions" if arguments and information are rationally debated and presented.

That formal style irritates some and raises accusations that it is impossible to deal with the Number 10 "bottleneck". But it has, in some quarters, won her grudging respect.

On one particular issue, however, even some of her supporters believe she is not following the natural logic.

That's her decision, so far, not to take people like Lord Hague's now very public advice and call an early election.

"As British law needs to be amended countless times to take account of leaving the EU treaties, the government could face many close votes, concessions or defeats as it tries to implement Brexit.

"That prospect will embolden the EU negotiators, and makes an agreement that is good for the UK harder to achieve.

"It could also lead to a situation where the prime minister faces a stand-off with Parliament over a deal that will have taken two years to negotiate and is nearly impossible to change."

Media caption,

Lord Lansley says an early election would enable PM to "strengthen her personal mandate"

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party had supported the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, but that it would "consider" any change to get rid of it.

Asked how confident he was of winning a general election, he said: "We are very confident of the support we can get in order to win the election."

"Do not underestimate the support there is for the Labour Party."

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