May rules out snap election despite Hague's suggestion of better Brexit
Theresa May will not call a snap election despite former Tory leader Lord Hague's suggestion that securing a bigger Commons majority would make it easier to deliver a successful Brexit, Downing Street sources have indicated.
A Number 10 source said the Prime Minister has been "clear and consistent in her position: that she does not think there should be" an early general election, while another added: "It's not going to happen."
Lord Hague's intervention came as Mrs May was bracing herself for defeat in the House of Lords over Brexit, with many peers demanding Parliament gets a "meaningful" vote on the final exit deal.
As this edition went to press, the debate was still in full swing and the Lords had yet to vote on the Bill.
The ex-foreign secretary said the PM could reduce the risk of further parliamentary stand-offs over Brexit if she won a "decisive" majority and warned her that different factions will inevitably find parts of the exit deal "difficult to stomach".
Lord Hague is the most senior Conservative figure to join the calls for an early election, which many in the party believe will deliver a thumping victory for Mrs May given Labour's dire showings in opinion polls.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's insistence that he can win should also make it easier for the Government to get the two-thirds majority in the Commons required to call an election under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which otherwise sets out that the next vote will be in 2020.
Writing in the Telegraph, Lord Hague urged Mrs May to repeal the Act in the interests of the country as it leaves the EU.
"We have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet facing the most complex challenges of modern times: Brexit negotiations, the Trump administration, the threat from Scottish nationalists, and many other issues," he said.
"There is no doubt that they would be in a stronger position to take the country through these challenges successfully if they had a large and decisive majority in the Commons and a new full term ahead of them."
Ahead of the expected clash between peers and the Government over Parliament's role in approving the final Brexit deal, Lord Hague went on: "Any deal is bound to be full of compromises which one group or another in Parliament finds difficult to stomach.
"As British law needs to be amended countless times to take account of leaving the EU treaties, the Government could face many close votes, concessions or defeats as it tries to implement Brexit.
"That prospect will embolden the EU negotiators, and makes an agreement that is good for the UK harder to achieve.
"It could also lead to a situation where the Prime Minister faces a stand-off with Parliament over a deal that will have taken two years to negotiate and is nearly impossible to change."
The Lords is expected to vote at around 5pm on Tuesday on an amendment calling for Westminster to be given a "meaningful" vote on the withdrawal agreement secured by the PM during negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaties.
Mrs May has promised Parliament a vote, but only on a "take it or leave it" basis, which would see the UK crash out of the EU without a deal if MPs reject the agreement she obtains.
But opposition members have argued Mrs May's position that "no deal is better than a bad deal" risks a sudden "cliff-edge" move on to WTO tariffs which would harm the UK economy.
A Labour Lords source told the Press Association the party was confident its amendment on a meaningful vote would deliver "another likely handsome defeat for the Government, given the developing cross-party campaign on this issue".