By Andrew Schonberg
Date: Monday 20 Mar 2017
(ShareCast News) - The Labour Party is fortifying itself for a snap election as chatter ramps up that PM Theresa May could call a ballot in early May, potentially in the earliest stages of its Brexit talks with the EU.
The speculation comes after May achieved Royal Assent for her Brexit Bill, providing her the foundation to trigger two-year exit talks from the EU after last year's referendum.
Source-based reports have Conservative Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin, chief whip Gavin Williamson and the PM's private secretary, George Hollingbery, discussing a poll for 4 May.
No. 10 has said May would not call an election until 2020. On Monday, Ladbrokes put the odds at 5/1 for a snap election on 4 May, with odds for one this year at 2/1.
These latest developments came almost a week after Digitallook reported that betting shops were offering strong odds that May would call an election this year rather than 2020.
At that time, betting outfit Paddy Power put the odds at 3/1 for a general election in 2017, while rival William Hill had them at a narrower 2/1.
In terms of outcomes, the odds also suggested a Conservative majority, with a 'No Overall Majority' outcome the next most likely, the betting firms' websites showed.
It was this latter factor that was reportedly troubling some Tories who are rattled by the prospect of a Lib Dem revival in the polls, after their hammering in the last outing.
Meantime, Andrew Gwynne, who was Labour's head of campaigns and elections, said the party, with Jeremy Corbyn sitting at the helm, was preparing for the possibility of the election.
"It would be very difficult not to because if the government wants to dissolve parliament, wants a general election, we don't want the Tories to be in government, we want to be in government," Gwynne told BBC's Sunday Politics.
"We want to have an opportunity to put that case to the British people," he added. "We are preparing ourselves for that eventuality in case that does come."
If a 4 May election was to go ahead it would require May to seek and acquire a two-thirds Commons majority in support, which was because of the Fixed Term Parliament Act.
Under electoral law, 27 March was the very last day May could potentially move the writ for a 4 May vote, the former being the day she was expected to formally trigger Brexit.
Earlier in March, former Conservative leader Lord Hague opined that May's slender Commons majority could make it difficult to pass the legislation needed to take Britain out of the EU.
At present the Conservatives are mired in an alleged election expenses scandal relating to the last general election.
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