Boris Johnson could call a general election next summer to exploit an “utterly divided” Labour Party, a newspaper has reported.
The Times has quoted allies of the favourite to take over from Theresa May as Prime Minister as saying he wants to hold a poll “while Jeremy Corbyn is still around” and that the Opposition party is in “no fit state to fight a general election”.
The new Conservative Party leader will be confirmed next week, with Johnson expected to beat Jeremy Hunt.
At a debate between the pair earlier this week, Johnson has made clear that he would not call an election before Brexit, which is scheduled for October 31
“I think it would be the height of folly,” he said.
But a source close to Johnson, called a senior member of his by The Times, said: “There’s a desire to get this done while Corbyn is still around. Labour is utterly divided - Brexit is killing them. Labour is in no fit state to fight a general election.”
Another said Corbyn as Labour leader is a “positive for us” as the “groundwork” has already been done.
But a spokesman for Johnson told the newspaper: “There are no plans for an election before 2022. The focus is on winning the leadership campaign.”
From the very start of his leadership campaign, Johnson has criticised Corbyn for his “proto-Marxist views” but warned that failing to get Brexit done by the end of October threatened to let him into power.
Labour is facing divisions over Brexit and anti-Semitism, and faced a hammering at the recent European elections.
In 2017, Theresa May infamously believed she could add to David Cameron’s majority by calling a snap general election but ended up having to strike a confidence and supply agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party after a Labour surge.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.