LIBERAL Democrats are gearing up for a general election which party bosses claimed could be announced as early as next month.
Portsmouth Lib Dem leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the group ‘was working to September 9’ as a date, with the nation hitting the polls potentially on ‘October 24’ – a week before the Brexit deadline.
The news came as Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn last night took fresh action in an effort to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal come Halloween.
In a demand to cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill, Mr Corbyn insisted the Boris Johnson must not be allowed to force through a no-deal in the middle of an election campaign.
The appeal fuelled speculation Mr Corbyn was preparing to file a motion of no confidence in the government – following in the footsteps of Lib Dem chief Jo Swinson who submitted one last month.
If he did, it could trigger an election before the Brexit deadline of October 31, throwing the UK’s negotiations with Europe into turmoil.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson, who is running for Portsmouth South, insisted his party was ready for any outcome.
He said: ‘I don’t think anybody voted in the referendum thinking we would be crashing out of Europe in such a disorderly way without deal. That looks as if it’s the most disruptive way to go.’
Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth Tory leader and the party’s candidate for Portsmouth South, insisted an election before October 31 was unlikely and that the government was committed to delivering Brexit.
She added she was ‘optimistic’ about winning a general election and said: ‘People are fed up and have had enough. I’m the only main party candidate who will honour the referendum and get on with leaving the EU.’
City Labour leader Stephen Morgan fired back and said none of the other candidates could be ‘trusted to protect’ Portsmouth’s public services.
The Portsmouth South MP added: ‘People remember all too well how the Lib Dems propped up the Tories in Government ensuring nearly a decade of austerity and cuts to city services we all rely on.
‘In me at the next election, whenever that may be, the people of Portsmouth will have someone with a record speaking up, getting things done and a fully committed campaigner for a final say on Brexit, with the crucial option to remain.’