Boris Johnson is planning an early general election to beat Jeremy Corbyn

Boris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Party, attends a hustings event in Colchester, Britain July 13, 2019.Boris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Party, attends a hustings event in Colchester, Britain July 13, 2019.Reuters / Peter Nicholls

  • Boris Johnson wants to hold an early general election while Jeremy Corbyn is still leader of the opposition Labour party, according to The Times.
  • 'There's a desire to get this done while Corbyn is still around,' the Times newspaper quoted one senior figure in his campaign as saying.
  • Johnson is favourite to replace Theresa May as prime minister next week when the results of the Conservative leadership contest are announced.
  • A spokesman for Johnson insisted: 'There are no plans for an election before 2022. The focus is on winning the leadership campaign.'

LONDON - Boris Johnson's team wants to hold an early general election to exploit an "utterly divided" Labour Party and has started raising funds to prepare for the contest, according to a Times report.

Johnson, the former foreign secretary, is the runaway favourite to replace Theresa May as prime minister when the result of the leadership contest with rival Jeremy Hunt is announced next week.

Both candidates have said they do not plan to hold an election before 2022, but the Times quoted senior allies of Johnson who said he wanted to fight Labour while Jeremy Corbyn, whose authority has been bruised by rows over antisemitism and Brexit, is still party leader.

"There's a desire to get this done while [opposition Labour leader Jeremy] Corbyn is still around," the Times quoted one senior ally as saying.

"Labour is utterly divided - Brexit is killing them. Labour is in no fit state to fight a general election."

Hunt and Johnson both attended a dinner on Tuesday evening that was attended by 100 Conservative donors in an attempt to boost the party coffers by raising over £1 million. Sources said the party had been left in "dire financial straits" under Theresa May.

Sir Edward Lister, who is tasked with overseeing Johnson's first 100 days in office should he win the leadership contest, plans to recruit more staff and pump money into Conservative headquarters to ensure the party is on an "election footing," the Times reported.

Johnson claimed last week that holding an election before Brexit was delivered would be "absolute folly." However, senior allies told the newspaper that planning was underway to go to the polls by the summer of next year.

One scenario being considered is Johnson losing a vote of no confidence and being forced into an election. Another is a snap election once Brexit is delivered, especially because they believe it could be hard to govern with a working majority of just three, which the party currently has. Johnson has pledged to take the UK out of the EU by the scheduled exit date on October 31 in any circumstances.

Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour party has been heavily damaged due to rows over Brexit, low poll ratings, and antisemitism.

The report came after 60 Labour peers took out a full-page advert in the Guardian newspaper telling Jeremy Corbyn he had "failed to defend our party's anti-racist values" and "failed the test of leadership."

Johnson is understood to see Corbyn as a positive for his own electoral prospects, having attacked the Labour leader's "semi-Marxist, job-destroying lunacy" at a leadership hustings this week.

A spokesman for Johnson said: "There are no plans for an election before 2022. The focus is on winning the leadership campaign."

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