Downing Street dismisses early election speculation

Theresa May was thought to be set to call a snap election as early as May, according to political commentators.

There are rumours that the United Kingdom could go to the polls sooner, sparking a flurry at betting shops.

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour has been on "early election footing" since the end of previous year in preparation for a 2017 general election, the party's chief elections strategist Andrew Gwynne said over the weekend.

May has made it clear to her colleagues that she does not favour an early election, because she thinks it would be self-serving and create added uncertainty at a time when the country needs stability.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour's elections chief, said on Sunday: "The Labour party has been on an early election footing since before Christmas".

"There would be little benefit from fighting the referendum again by proxy in a General Election, where the polling shows the pro Brexit Conservative party is likely to win".

The law, which came into force in 2015, means that general elections must be held every five years unless MPs pass a vote of no confidence against the prime minister or two thirds of the representatives back a snap election. Article 50, signalling the start of the Brexit process will officially be triggered on March 29.

The Tories have so far denied all speculation, insisting May will stay in power until her party's term is over in 2020.

There is also the small matter of the 2011 Fixed-Term Parliament Act, introduced under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. "Politics is not a game my arse", wrote a Twitter user named Pete Clarke, referring to the recent announcement by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that she would seek a new independence referendum.

Mrs May's officials spokesman said: "There is no change in our position on an early general election, that there isn't going to be one - it is not going to happen". That would place the announcement mere days ahead of the PM's formal trigger of Brexit procedures.

The former Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said: "We couldn't do much worse than we did last time, so of course I would welcome an early election".

  • Leroy Wright