Prime Minister Boris Johnson three times refuses to rule out early general election amid calls to resign

BORIS Johnson has three times refused to rule out early general elections, risking Tory mutiny.

The prime minister ducked and ducked when asked if he planned to go to the polls this year or next.

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Prime Minister has three times refused to rule out early general elections, risking a Tory mutinyCredit: Reuters

Speaking in Spain, Mr Johnson joked that “the idea hadn’t occurred” – but repeatedly refused to reject it.

The next general election is not expected until 2024 and cannot be held until January 2025.

But his reticence is likely to terrify his Tory critics after two crushing election defeats a week ago in Tiverton and Honiton, Devon, and Wakefield, West Yorks.

Previously, prime ministers had to ask the MPs for permission to go to the country, but after the repeal of the Parliaments Act for a limited time, he has the power to call one at any time.

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It would be a big gamble for Boris, as Labor is narrow in the polls but consistently ahead of the Conservatives and Johnson is suffering a new low in popularity.

But some Tory MPs fear he will use an election to try to escape yet another Partygate investigation – or if Labor were plunged into chaos due to Sir Keir Starmer having to quit over his own Currygate police investigation.

Attending a NATO summit in Madrid, the prime minister said: “I don’t comment on that sort of thing.

“I am focused on overcoming cost of living pressures and ensuring we continue to provide leadership on tough global challenges.”

But some on his team think voters could face a backlash if he calls new elections too soon.

A source close to Boris said: “The prime minister won a majority of 80 seats. People want us to use it to get things done.”

Mr Johnson returns to the UK tonight – after nine days of travel – to consider a reshuffle after party chairman Oliver Dowden resigns.

Last night it was suggested that he would return Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis to the presidency role and replace him with key ally Conor Burns.

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