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December election would be 'Christmas present' for PM, warns SNP MP

Paul Grover/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Supporting an early general election would be like a "birthday and a Christmas present rolled into one" for Boris Johnson, according to an SNP MP.

Angus MacNeil, the member for the Western Isles, warned against MPs voting for a vote to be held in December when the proposal is put before the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister has been pushing for a December 12 election but on Saturday a proposal was put forward by the SNP and Liberal Democrats to hold one three days earlier on December 9.

He spoke out after Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon advanced the case for a December 9 election, arguing "doing nothing allows Johnson to get his bad deal through" or could allow the PM to "run down clock to end January when no-deal becomes a real risk all over again"

But Mr MacNeil said he was "perplexed" by the proposal and that granting an early election risked handing Boris Johnson a majority, as well as the power to block a Section 30 request to hold a Scottish independence referendum.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr MacNeil said: "I'm kind of perplexed as to what it's about.

"I mean, obviously, the SNP has nothing to fear in an election at the moment, certainly wouldn't have anything to fear in six months' time in Scotland, but the thing we've got to fear is we have Boris Johnson in place for five years with a big majority.

"And the other thing is, we haven't sorted out our Section 30, we haven't sorted out what we're doing for a referendum. We don't know if we're going to have that."

Asked about the failure to include a Section 30 request as a condition to hold an early election, Mr MacNeil said: "It seems to me like a birthday present and a Christmas present rolled into one.

"I mean, if I was to say to you you're getting a million pounds next Monday but you won't get it next Thursday, would you accept your million pounds on Monday or Thursday? I think you're going to take your million pounds on Monday.

"Boris Johnson has been wanting a cut and run election for quite a while.

"He was certainly wanting one before October 31 because he knew that if that was a hard Brexit and the shelves were empty, the medicines weren't coming in and the car plants were closing, it's such a scenario which does not an election-winner make.

"Hence he wanted his cut and run beforehand so he could sell it on the dream of 'get Brexit done'."

Mr MacNeil also said that by waiting until the early part of next year to hold an election, Mr Johnson would be in a weaker position.

Ms Sturgeon said forcing the Prime Minister to fight an election now would mean he would have to explain his failure to deliver Brexit "do or die".

She said while she still "strongly supported" a second Brexit referendum, there was no evidence a majority of MPs could be persuaded to back this course of action.

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "For all his bluster, Johnson would much prefer to fight an election with Brexit already 'delivered'.

"An election now would instead force him to explain his failure to keep his 31 October 'do or die' promise and also defend his bad deal.

"To change the course Johnson is taking us on, we need to beat him. I accept that challenge for @theSNP in Scotland. Other parties have to do the same elsewhere in UK.

"Doing nothing almost guarantees he gets what he wants - Brexit delivered, possibly through 'no deal'."

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