Jeremy Corbyn has announced that Labour is ready to back a general election now that the EU has granted a three-month Brexit delay, making a pre-Christmas poll all but certain.
With the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party preparing to support a one-line bill tabled by Boris Johnson’s government later on Tuesday, triggering an early poll, Corbyn said his party would also support it.
The Labour leader told the shadow cabinet: “I have consistently said that we are ready for an election and our support is subject to a no-deal Brexit being off the table.
“We have now heard from the EU that the extension of article 50 to 31 January has been confirmed, so for the next three months, our condition of taking no deal off the table has now been met.
“We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen.”
Corbyn’s party abstained on Monday when Johnson tabled a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA) to call for an election, with the shadow cabinet split over the wisdom of an early poll.
The Labour leader and his close allies have been keen to hit the campaign trail, despite the reticence of his chief whip, Nick Brown, and other key figures.
The Labour campaign group Momentum tweeted: “Labour are officially backing an election. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to put an end to the shambolic mess the Tories have made and return hope to millions. Let’s do this.”
Downing Street had said it planned to call for a 12 December general election in its one-line bill, but a No 10 source said on Tuesday it would be prepared to accept an amendment, if proposed by the Lib Dems and SNP, for an election one day earlier, on 11 December.
A Lib Dem source said the party would be willing to consider the 11 December date. The SNP said no decision had yet been taken.
The Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna said on Tuesday that 12 December remained unacceptable to his party.
“We are not prepared to accept the 12th. If you have the 12th, it presents an opportunity for the government to try and get their withdrawal agreement bill through. We know that they have a record of going back on their promises and breaking the law, so we cannot trust them on that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.