Early General Election means schools might have to cancel their nativity plays, senior Tory MP admits

nativity scene, made from wood
Could an early general election mean Christmas is cancelled? (Picture: Getty)

An early general election could mean schools have to cancel their nativity plays, Conservative party chairman James Cleverly has admitted.

Reports have suggested that electoral officials are facing problems planning a potential election before Christmas as many venues usually used as polling stations are already booked up for nativity plays.

Asked about the issue on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Cleverly said: “I don’t want to be the Grinch but the point is democracy is incredibly important.”

He added: “We have been prevented from discharging the duty imposed upon us. We want to get on with governing.”

Asked whether the headline ‘Conservatives cancel Christmas’ wasn’t quite what the party was looking for, Mr Cleverly said: “The point we want to make is that there is so much we want to do.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 22: Conservative Party Chairman and Minister without Portfolio James Cleverly arrives for the Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on 22 October, 2019 in London, England. Today, MPs in the House of Commons are due to debate and vote on the European Union Withdrawal Agreement bill, known as the second reading and on the programme motion of Boris Johnson's plan to complete the Brexit legislation within three days.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
James Cleverly was quizzed about the prospect that school nativity plays could be cancelled in the event of an early general election, so their venues could be used as polling stations (Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

How likely is an early general election?

In short, fairly likely. The next election isn’t technically due until 2022 but if the EU confirms a Brexit delay, Boris Johnson has said he will push for a general election.

Downing Street reportedly wanted an election in late November, but by law Parliament has to be dissolved 25 working days before an election which means for it to happen before the end of November, it would need to be triggered this week.

Elections are traditionally held on a Thursday which means if one was triggered next week the earliest it could happen would be December 5 - making it the first December election since 1923.

However, the Cabinet’s split over the idea.


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A December vote doesn’t bode well - in 1923 Tory PM Stanley Baldwin went from a majority to a hung Parliament, leading some to warn against an election before Christmas.

However, one Cabinet minister reportedly told the Telegraph that they are keen for an election “this side of Christmas”.

A polling station sign is pictured in Biggin Hill, Britain May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A polling station sign is pictured in Biggin Hill, Britain May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Labour has also signalled that it will support an early election.

Asked by Radio 4’s Today programme if Labour would vote in favour of a general election as soon as the prime minister asks for one, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “If he goes straight to calling for a general election of course we’ll support a general election.

“But... if having been offered a pragmatic compromise it would be viewed quite unreasonable for the prime minister to not put his bill through parliament.”

Pressed on the issue of whether Labour would vote for a general election as soon as Mr Johnson asks for it, she added: “That’s our position. But we also want the prime minister to look at the compromise that’s been offered that a lot of MPs support, and that’s the ability to be able to properly scrutinise the bill.”

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