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Mounting speculation of early general election adds to Brexit hysteria

So far Boris Johnson's premiership has been marked by feverish activity as he tours the country making lavish spending pledges

As Brexit hysteria tightens its grip on Britain, there are unconfirmed reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to hold an early general election to stave off a parliamentary revolt on Brexit.

The Guardian reported on August 18 that No 10 Downing Street is increasingly on an “election footing”, with Conservative party advisers coming under pressure to produce “manifesto ideas”.

The Guardian story is based on leaked internal emails suggesting that Johnson is planning to meet the influential Australian political strategist, Lynton Crosby.

Dubbed “the Wizard of Oz”, Crosby has successfully managed election campaigns for right wing parties in several countries.

A longtime friend of Johnson, Crosby supported the PM during his two London mayoral campaigns.

Speculation about a snap general election has intensified since Johnson ascended to the premiership in late July.

In the month since he has been PM, Johnson has travelled across the country promising deep investments in local infrastructure, particularly in traditional Labour voting areas.

In addition, Johnson has dived into the Scottish independence debate by visiting Scotland earlier this month where he pledged £180 million to the Scottish health service as part of a “union boost”.

British Prime Ministers tend to energetically tour the country, and promise lavish local spending, in the run-up to general elections. It is primarily for this reason that speculation about a snap general election is mounting.

But there could be another explanation for Johnson’s feverish activity: that he is trying to unite the country in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.

To that end, Johnson has raised the stakes in his negotiation with European Union leaders by threatening to withhold the £39 billion “divorce bill” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The divorce bill was negotiated by former PM, Theresa May, as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement that she drew up with EU leaders.

Threatening to withhold the divorce bill is likely to boost Johnson’s popularity at home and generate additional momentum for national unity in preparation for a hard Brexit.

But if parliament succeeds in blocking a no-deal Brexit, Johnson will have little other choice than to call a snap general election to break the impasse.     

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