THE prospect of a general election next month appears to have increased after Boris Johnson called an emergency Cabinet meeting this afternoon to discuss the consequences of the so-called Rebel Alliance winning a Commons vote to force another Brexit delay.

It is suggested that the Prime Minister could seek to dissolve the UK Parliament as early as Wednesday if he loses the key vote as he would feel he would need a fresh mandate from the public to continue with his Brexit strategy. 

Going to the country before Brexit Day would be a massive gamble for Mr Johnson given that Nigel Farage's Brexit Party will campaign on yet another Conservative Government still not having delivered Britain's withdrawal from the EU more than three years after the 2016 referendum result.

Bookies suspended betting on a general election after a wave of bets was made.

A Downing St source said: “Cabinet will discuss the Government's response to MPs seeking to take control of legislative agenda away from Government and handing it to the Opposition and Corbyn without the consent of the people.

“The view is that tomorrow’s possible vote is an expression of confidence in the Government’s negotiating position...”

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This was later clarified to underline that “an expression of confidence” in the Government’s negotiating position was not necessarily the same as a formal issue of confidence in the Government.

On hearing the news of the emergency Cabinet, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, quickly tweeted: "As talk of a general election mount, I say 'bring it on'...but it must be before Oct 31. MPs must not allow Johnson to game the date as a ploy to push through a no-deal Brexit."

Tensions are building up before what is expected to be another historic set-piece debate on Brexit tomorrow when Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and other opposition parties, aided by some 20 Tory rebels, seek to take control of the Commons agenda to pass a bill to block Brexit from happening on October 31. The precise wording of the legislation is expected to be published this afternoon.

No 10 had earlier announced that the Cabinet would meet on Wednesday morning ahead of the Spending Review statement by Sajid Javid, the Chancellor.

But this lunchtime, in a dramatic move Downing St let it be known that an emergency Cabinet meeting would take place just before 5pm. Later, the Prime Minister is due to host his Conservative colleagues at a No 10 drinks reception on the eve of Westminster’s return following the summer break.

Opposition leaders are quietly confident that they have the numbers to win a Brexit extension vote despite Mr Johnson’s threat to any Tory rebel, that if they sided with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Blackford and Jo Swinson in the voting lobbies, then they would forfeit the party whip and would lose the chance to be the Conservative candidate in their seat at a snap election.

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One suggestion now is that if Mr Johnson lost the Brexit extension vote, he would table a motion for a general election under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which would require a two-thirds majority.

To get this through, however, opposition forces would need to know an election would take place before Brexit Day, so that, if a majority voted against the Tories, they could delay or even stop Britain’s withdrawal.

Yet, by law, the power over naming an election date rests with the PM, who recommends one to the Queen, who by convention complies.

Earlier, Tony Blair urged Mr Corbyn to steer clear of an early election, which he described as an “elephant trap”. He warned the Labour leader a snap poll would split the opposition parties’ vote and could produce a "comfortable Tory majority" unless they worked together.

Mr Blair said he would vote for Mr Corbyn if it would stop a no-deal Brexit but admitted he felt a "dilemma".

He explained: "I personally believe so strongly on Brexit I would do anything to stop it," adding: "On the other hand, it's no great secret that people like me have real issues with the[Labour] programme.”