LONDON — The Liberal Democrats have told party activists to prepare for a snap general election in the next few months in the belief that Theresa May could be forced to go back to the country when her Brexit deal is voted down by MPs.
In an email sent to party members on Friday morning and leaked to Business Insider, Lib Dem authorities say they have produced a “Flying Start Kit” for members to ensure they are prepared for a potential general election campaign.
“The Tory Government has got itself into a terrible mess, as a party we have to prepare for every eventuality,” a senior Lib Dem source told Business Insider.
“That means getting activists and members fighting fit for a People’s Vote. Or if the government does collapse an early election. It would be irresponsible for the campaigns team to ignore it.”
Another Lib Dem source confirmed that leader Sir Vince Cable has held “high level” discussions with party figures about making sure the party is ready for a general election to take place in the next few months.
Here’s an excerpt from the email:
Lib Dem sources stressed that the party remains focused on delivering a People’s Vote — a referendum on the outcome of Brexit negotiations — and members will take part in “national action” campaigning across the UK this weekend.
Tom Brake, the party’s Brexit spokesperson, told Business Insider that the party will be “be out in force right across the country to make the case for a Peoples’ Vote, including the option to remain in the EU.” He added: “The people deserve a chance to escape this Brexit mess, and Lib Dems will fight with them to get it.”
However, party authorities have also started to gather resources for another snap election.
One source close to Cable told Business Insider that the party “has been on election footing” since the summer. This month preparations have been stepped up a gear after pro-Brexit MPs in the Conservative party tried to get rid of May as their leader and widespread opposition to her deal in the House of Commons.
The Labour party are also preparing for an election within the next few months, with party activists piling resources into marginal seats across the country.
May has agreed a Brexit divorce deal with the European Union which will be put before MPs for a parliamentary vote in early December. The prime minister is expected to lose the vote, with over 80 Conservative MPs, a majority of Labour MPs, DUP MPs who prop up her government, and other opposition parties set to vote against it.
Lib Dem authorities believe that this could be the trigger for May resigning as Conservative leader followed by a general election. On Friday, the prime minister repeatedly refused to say whether she would stay on if her Brexit deal is rejected by MPs next month, in an interview with the BBC’s Emma Barnett.
I’m focused on actually ensuring we do get this deal through parliament,” she told Barnett.
Under the terms of the Fixed Parliament Act, a majority of MPs in the House of Commons would have to vote for a general election for one to take place.
May has repeatedly insisted that MPs must act in the “national interest” and back her deal amid the widespread belief that the UK could enter with a constitutional crisis if the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected.