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Labour MPs have played cynical politics, and may pay a heavy price

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Boris Johnson was “blindsided” by Labour’s refusal to support an early election, I am told. If so, he was not the only one.

At the start of this week, Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party, and all the commentators, including me, took it for granted that, if the prime minister asked for an election, Labour MPs would have to vote for it.

It was an iron law of politics – a fairly recent one, but iron-clad. Corbyn surprised everyone in 2017 by saying, within two hours of Theresa May announcing that she wanted an election, that he would vote for it.

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The iron law held that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, designed to make it difficult for a prime minister to hold an election before a five-year parliament was up, didn’t work. The opposition would always be too embarrassed, we now thought, to pass up the chance to take its case to the people.

Well, the thing about iron is that it is brittle. The opposition defeated the government on Tuesday to pave the way for a bill to block a no-deal Brexit.........

© Independent