Three cabinet ministers have told their local parties: prepare for a general election

A further six junior ministers have also asked their local parties to be ready for a contest. 

NS

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At least nine government ministers, three of whom are in the cabinet, have instructed their constituency associations to prepare for an early election, the New Statesman has learnt. Four of them named 28 February as the date.

In addition, a further two associations reported that speakers had suggested moving fundraising events to accommodate a possible contest.

One minister, who holds a marginal seat in the south, has already designed and written their election address, as has another with a safe seat in the south east; one north-east association has likewise been instructed to provide election material. All have been asked to expedite re-adoption procedures. (Under Tory party rules, sitting MPs face a vote of their local executive if they wish to continue on as the party's candidate.) 

One association chair was told that the only way to break the deadlock was an election, while another has been informed that even should the withdrawal agreement pass, it will not be done so in a way that retains the support of the DUP, without which the Conservative Party cannot continue to govern.

Although in theory the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act takes the timing of an election out of the Prime Minister’s hands, in practice, should Theresa May request one it would be forthcoming as the opposition is bound to vote for it.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.