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Boris refuses to rule out calling an early general election three times
30 June 2022, 14:20
Boris Johnson refused to be drawn on rumours he could call an early general election.
The suggestions have panicked some backbench Tories in the wake of two humbling by-election defeats to Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Calling an early vote would appear counterproductive with the Conservatives lagging behind Labour in the polls, and Mr Johnson often ranks unfavourably.
It has led to questions over whether he would call a vote to escape the Commons' incoming Partygate investigation.
Speaking at a Nato summit in Madrid on Thursday, the Prime Minister joked that the thought of an early general election "hadn't occurred" to him.
But he refused three times to rule one out.
"I don't comment on those sorts of things," he said.
"I'm focused on getting through the cost-of-living pressures and making sure we continue to offer leadership on tough global issues."
Some backbench MPs are worried that Mr Johnson could use an election to dodge the Commons Privileges Committee's investigation into whether he lied to Parliament over Partygate.
Reports said Mr Johnson's allies have branded the probe – which will be led by Labour's Harriet Harman – as a "kangaroo court", though No10 said it trusted the committee to "take its responsibilities seriously".
The committee is made up of seven MPs, four Tories, two from Labour and one from the SNP.
A source in Mr Johnson's team said voters could rail against an attempt to call an election this early.
"The PM won an 80-seat majority, people want us to use it to get s*** done, rather than hold another vote," they said.
The next election is not due until 2024. The Prime Minister can dissolve Parliament and call a new election when he wants.
YouGov polling puts Labour on 36%, three points ahead of the Tories on 33%, while 60% of Brits disapprove of the Government.