Labour’s split over the timing of any election has deepened this evening. In an interview with Andrew Neil, John Healey repeatedly declared that as soon as the extension legislation has got Royal Assent, Labour would want an election. Andrew Neil put it to Healey that this contradicted what Keir Starmer said today at the despatch box, when he said that Labour would not favour an election until an extension was actually in place.
Jeremy Corbyn then took the same position as Healey when he spoke in the election debate in the chamber. If this holds as the official Labour position, then Boris Johnson will get the numbers for an election as soon as this extension bill is through.
Healey was clear too that Labour would use an extension to try and negotiate its own deal. He said that once Labour had negotiated that, they would then decide whether to campaign for it or Remain in the referendum that they have promised. I suspect that Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats will be delighted by this answer; it suggests that Labour will try and maintain some ambiguity in their Brexit position in this election. This will definitely help the Liberal Democrats in their efforts to eat into Labour’s Remain vote.