MP Dennis Skinner has claimed the Prime Minister called an early election because of the investigation into Tory election expenses.
Speaking to our sister paper, the i newspaper, The MP for Bolsover said he wasn’t convinced by Theresa May’s justification for the snap poll announcement.
“I don’t believe this fairy story put forth by Tedious Theresa”, he says. “She tried to kid people, especially the media, over why she’s having an election.”
In her surprise announcement on Monday, Mrs May said that she was going to the polls to seek a mandate for Brexit, which she accused other political parties of opposing. “The country is coming together”, she claimed, “but Westminster is not”.
“That is not true”, Skinner says. “I sit there every day. I know what happens in the Commons. The idea that somehow she’s had to battle to get Brexit through is nonsense.”
Referring to the process of “ping pong” by which bills are passed back and forth between the House of Commons and the House of Lords before being passed into law, Skinner tells i “the House of Lords hasn’t done the ping, pong, ping, pong as they have done many times with a Labour government.
The ping pong lasted for one ping!”
So why did Mrs May really call a general election, forcing Parliament to vote on its own dissolution years before the next scheduled election in 2020?
For Mr Skinner, the real reason is as clear as day.
“It’s quite clear: it’s because the Crown Prosecution Service are due to make a decision on Tory election expenses,” he says. Reports suggest that the CPS are investigating more than 30 people, including “a raft” of Conservative MPs and their agents, over election expenses from 2015. “She could be in power one week, and if they’re charged, she’ll be out next week”, Skinner says. “I would hope the press would be smart enough to write the proper story”, he says, adding firmly, “the country has a right to know”.
As for what will happen in June, Skinner is optimistic – despite polling showing his party are twenty points behind the Tories
Dennis Skinner It could, he suggests, be a bit like 1974 – “when Ted Heath thought that he could have an election over one issue: the miner’s strike”.
But elections, Skinner says, “tend to have a mind of their own. People started talking about employment, schools, and everything else.
i originally approached Dennis Skinner about writing a comment piece. He insisted, however, that he would not “moonlight” and take work from journalists, and offered to be interviewed instead.