Brexit: Early Elections Coming, But How Early?


Early elections in the UK are a given. How early? Before the end of the year, perhaps immediately.

Early Elections Chances

  1. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will soon submit a motion of no-confidence. If the motion is successful, there will be elections.
  2. Boris Johnson will call for elections this year if not triggered by a motion of no confidence.

Timing Matters

One of the above is guaranteed, but the timing is important.

1A: If Corbyn submits a motion of no confidence on July 25, and the motion succeeds, there will be time to hold elections and stop Brexit, if Corbyn wins.

1B: Recess starts at the end of the session on July 25. Corbyn's next chance for a motion of no confidence would be September 3. Starting September 4, there may not be enough time remaining to hold an election and undo Brexit. Johnson could run out the clock. I have September 10 as the absolute last chance. But if the election is on a Thursday, then September 3 is the mathematical last chance because October 31 is a Thursday.

2A: Johnson could immediately call for elections. If he does he would then campaign on a deliver Brexit platform.

2B: Johnson could wait until September 10 or later, ask for new elections, and run out the clock.

2C: Johnson could wait until after October then call for new elections, having delivered Brexit.


It is very hard to determine the odds. It would take a number of Tories willing to end their careers for a motion of no confidence to immediately succeed.

There are also a couple Labour Party members who would either abstain or vote against the motion. This too could end their careers, but one of them, a staunch Brexiteer has already proclaimed that is what she would do as sh is retiring anyway.

I suspect 2B or 2C is most likely and 1B the least likely.

If Corbyn has the votes, he will opt for 1A. If not, 1B would likely not be in time to stop Brexit which is why I have that as the least likely scenario.

Johnson's Choice

Let's assume, perhaps incorrectly, that Corbyn does not have the votes for a motion of no confidence to succeed.

Under that scenario, Johnson gets his choice of Immediate (2A), before October 31 but with no time left to prevent Brexit (2B), and after October 31 (2C).

What should Johnson choose?

Least Risky Option

Johnson will select the option he deems least risky. I believe that is 2B or 2C.

Eurointelligence opts for 2A.

The Times reported yesterday that the team around Boris Johnson is preparing for early elections. We think this is a plausible story, but it does not mean that elections will necessarily happen. Our sense is that a discussion is going on within the Johnson camp. The perception of those within the Johnson team who argue in favour of an early election is that they stand a good chance to win it while Jeremy Corbyn is still around. The article also mentions that the Conservatives were planning a recruitment drive next week to put their party on an election footing.

We have argued before that an immediate election would be the least risky of all options for Johnson. It is the only scenario in which he could conceivably win an election before having delivered Brexit. An election right after a no-deal Brexit could be potentially catastrophic. We would expect Johnson to fight on a Brexit-delivery theme, nailing the 31-October leaving date to his mast. We would agree with the Times' assertion that Labour in its current state is unlikely to do well at an election.

There were also more signs of a hardening approach to Brexit. Johnson appointed a no-deal advocate as senior adviser to his EU team. Daniel Moylan is a former aide to Johnson when he was mayor of London. Again, we would not overplay the significance of the appointment on its own, but it is consistent with a hardening of Johnson’s Brexit position. After Johnson’s clear rejection of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, we see few obstacles now to a no-deal Brexit in October. However, Johnson may find it expedient to call elections beforehand to avoid an open confrontation with the House of Commons.

We also found it interesting to read an article in Buzzfeed about the disarray of the second-referendum campaign. Their most senior staff are divided over whether the should keep neutral, or whether they should openly back Remain. We think this is a storm in a very small teacup. Everybody knows that the second-referendum campaign is a Remain project. This is about tactics - a battle based on different perceptions of the gullibility of voters. Those who argue in favour of neutrality say this would increase the chances of success for their campaign, and the early-election chances of parliamentary candidates supporting a second referendum. We have argued consistently that a second referendum is unlikely to happen, except in a case of a Labour-led government. Even in that case, we would expect voters to endorse Brexit again.

Baffling Eurointelligence Contradictions

  • Eurointelligence says that in even in a People's Vote, "voters would endorse Brexit again".
  • Eurointelligence also says "an election right after a no-deal Brexit could be potentially catastrophic."

Those points seem highly contradictory.

If people would choose Brexit again, why would having an election following delivery be catastrophic when the need for a Brexit Party vanishes?

Two Certainties

  1. Corbyn wants to become prime minister.
  2. Johnson wants to run against Corbyn, not somebody else.

Point two is the case for immediate elections. But it also seems to work for 2B and possibly even 2C.

Case Against Corbyn

The Labour party is even more splintered than the Tories as long as Johnson delivers Brexit.

Corbyn's wishy-washy reversals of simultaneously supporting Brexit while calling for a referendum while really wanting a customs union (the worst possible option), have severely damaged Labour.

In addition, Corbyn is reeling for charges of antisemitism if not worse.

Labour Attack Corbyn's Anti-Jewish Leadership in Newspaper Ad

​Please consider 67 Labour Party Members Attack Corbyn's Anti-Jewish Leadership in Newspaper Ad

When might Corbyn be forced out?

I do not know, but I expect that to happen. Corbyn might also resign first.

Whether he goes quietly or kicking and screaming might make a difference.

He is 70 years old and has an excuse of retiring if he chooses.

Johnson's Math

Safe Choice

  • If Johnson believes the YouGov, BMG, or Ipos/MORI polls are accurate, he might be inclined to call elections sooner rather than later.
  • If Johnson believes ComRes, Survation, or Opinium he might wish to deliver Brexit first just to make sure it happens.

This of course implies Johnson has a choice. He will not have a choice in the event of 1A: Corbyn submits a motion of no confidence on July 25, and the motion succeeds.

Once again, let's assume Johnson has a choice.

Complicated Math

It is not at all clear what his best option might be, at least according to the polls. That's more supporting evidence that Eurointelligence is going out on a limb.

Finally, although Johnson wants to run against Corbyn, not somebody else, that may not be Johnson's choice either.

What if Labour chooses to dump Corbyn the moment Johnson calls elections?

Best Policy Choice for Johnson

All things considered, the best policy choice (least risky) for Johnson is to postpone the choice until it is certain that Brexit is delivered, but no longer.

If my analysis is correct, that implies a mid-September or later call for elections, but no later than the end of this year.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (8)
No. 1-7

Calling an election can also give EU reason to offer extension. Sounds counter intuitive but none of this is straightforward. An extension offered without being requested.


Before calling for elections, why not have parliament vote on immediate Brexit without a deal while Tories consider the prospect of the Brexit party taking many of their seats? A no deal Brexit now would finish Farage's new party. But if Brexit occurs October 31, it would become irrelevant for all parties during subsequent elections, including the Tories.


The Conservatives are riding a temporary high as supporters concentrate on the Tory leadership question, and have therefore put the Brexit Party to one side for now. That is about to end.

Nigel Farage has been positioning the Brexit Party to be the party to lead a successful post-Brexit Britain. Given that there remains tremendous distrust of the Conservatives for their two-faced dealing with voters over the Brexit 'negotiations', the Brexit Party might rebound (to a greater or lesser extent) post-Brexit. That makes Johnson's choice even more difficult.

Another option, not mentioned, is to allow things to settle down post-Brexit for as long as possible, and hope Farage's momentum dissipates. If it doesn't, it looks like Johnson might be forced into a Conservative-Brexit Party coalition, which I'm quite certain he wouldn't relish.



"Calling an election can also give EU reason to offer extension. Sounds counter intuitive but none of this is straightforward. An extension offered without being requested."

The new European Council head already said it would consider another extension provided there was "good reason".

France might not go along.

But more importantly, the EU cannot grant an extension unless asked. Boris will not ask.

End of idea!


Brexit Party are repositioning themselves to be a party for the regions, saying they will invest £200Bn. Cancelling HS2 rail link that would not be for the masses but the elite from London heading North. Instead invest in East-West links in the North.

This will gain support from Tory core in rural areas north of London and gain some Labour support in the North.



One disadvantage to 2C is that after a hard Brexit, the economy is sure to be turbulent for awhile. I would expect the party in power to dip in popularity immediately following Brexit. If Brexit works out, they will gain popularity later, but the initial reaction will almost certainly be negative.

  1. Any election campaign is like war: once started, you cannot control the process and the end result.
  2. Any pre-Brexit election would see the potential Tory vote split across the Tories and Farage's new Brexit party, and thus very uncertain for the deep State.
  3. To hem the risk of a pre-Brexit election, the deep State has fomented a full on attack on Corbyn (not sufficiently anti-anti-Semitic!).

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